Feb. 18, 2010 -- While the case of Roman Polanski continues to play out in Swiss and American courts, Ewan McGregor, the star of Polanski's latest film, "The Ghost Writer," has no doubts about his feelings towards the director.
"He's a legendary filmmaker, he's one of the best filmmakers there is," McGregor said on "Good Morning America" today.
Polanski, 76, is charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Hollywood in 1977. In January, a California state superior court judge insisted that Polanski, currently under house arrest in Switzerland, return to the U.S. to conclude his decades-old case. But this month, the Swiss ministry of justice said it would not extradite Polanski to face criminal charges until courts determine whether he must face sentencing in person.
None of that matters to McGregor, who said he was honored to work with the Oscar-winning director of "The Pianist," "Rosemary's Baby," and "Chinatown."
"I was sent the script from Roman Polanski asking me to play the part. Roman's not someone I knew or met but he's certainly someone I wanted to work with," McGregor said. "I don't comment on his case because it has nothing to do with me. I work with him as an actor ... I've known him for less than a year."
"The Ghost Writer," which opens Friday, centers on a man (McGregor) hired to replace the newly and suspiciously deceased ghost writer of an ex-English prime minister's memoir. Just as the new writer starts his job, the ex-PM (Pierce Brosnan) is swept into a scandal about counter-terrorism tactics during his administration, and a war crimes investigation is launched. McGregor's character dives in, attempting to unravel the mystery behind the ex-PM's rise to power.
While McGregor refused to comment on Polanski's personal troubles, Brosnan shared his shock about the director's recent arrest at the world premiere of "The Ghost Writer" in Berlin earlier this week.
"I was shocked. I was very disappointed and saddened by his arrest," he told reporters following a press screening for the film.
"I wondered why now, after such a long time?" Brosnan added. "I was very upset for his family, for his children ... I had every faith that the film was going to be, for some reason, made and shown."
Compared with most of Polanski's previous works, "The Ghost Writer" is a higher-profile endeavor with a higher-profile cast. That, along with the press about Polanski's life, could make the film a box office success.
It also offers an intriguing parallel with the director's recent past: in the wake of the counter-terrorism controversy, Brosnan's character faces potential exile from Britain to the U.S., not unlike Polanski's three-decades-long exile from the U.S.