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Birds Of Prey’s Ewan McGregor Explains Black Mask’s Issues

Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz and Ewan McGregor as Black Mask in Birds of Prey

(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

We know and love Ewan McGregor as the gentle mentor to Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels and the grown man who adventured with Pooh Bear and friends for Christopher Robin, but get ready to see a completely new side of the actor. This weekend, he portray Black Mask for the DCEU’s latest film, Birds of Prey. But what kind of villain is he? Here’s what McGregor says:

The key is not to come out and try to play the bad guy. Because I don’t know exactly what that would mean. So you try and understand why or try and understand why your character is the way he is. And in this case, he comes from a very rich family. He’s been sort of ousted from that family. He’s got very thin skin. He doesn’t like being criticized.

Talk to most actors about what it’s like playing the antagonist, and 9 out of 10 times they’ll talk about how from their perspective, they’re not the bad guy. Just misunderstood. It’s how they get into character I suppose. Ewan McGregor echoes this mindset while speaking on Late Night with Seth Meyers. In order to take on Black Mask, the actor had to get inside the head of a spoiled narcissist.

In the comics, Black Mask is a sadistic crime lord in Gotham City who has a fixation on masks. Per his origin story, he at first directs his hate toward Bruce Wayne (not Batman) when Bruce's company buys out his own. The villain then decides to carve a black mask out of his fallen father’s black coffin, and thus a villain is born. We’ll have to turn in and see if Ewan McGregor’s character ever crosses paths with Robert Pattinson’s upcoming Batman.

Ewan McGregor previously characterized his DC character as something of a control freak whose peace becomes disrupted by one Ms. Harley Quinn. Apparently, she “drives him mad.” Won’t that be fun to see play out?

Also known as Roman Sionis, Black Mask once tolerated Margot Robbie’s iconic character because she was at the side of Jared Leto’s Joker. But since the pair have since gone through a breakup, there’s nothing stopping Black Mask from going after her now. But he doesn’t count on her assembling her own group of badass friends for girls' night. Harley Quinn will be fighting alongside Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary, Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya and Ella Jay Basco’s Cassandra Cain.

Black Mask will have Chris Messina’s Victor Zsasz on his side. The serial-killer character is obsessed with Ewan McGregor’s character in the movie, per the actor behind him. Cathy Yan’s film will explore “misogyny” with the film’s villain, according to Ewan McGregor. Fans seem to dig it so far considering the Birds of Prey has an 86% critics’ score and a 70% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes right now.

This would make Harley Quinn’s latest outing one of the most well received DC movies to date. Wonder Woman is still on top and Shazam! is a close second. Check out Birds of Prey in theaters now!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.