Actor Claims to Newsweek His Evil-Priest Character Suggests Nothing Anti-Catholic

Newsweek hasn’t favored the movie Angels & Demons with a cover story like it did for The DaVinci Code, but it is allowing the cast to make the usual denials of anti-Catholicism on the Newsweek website. In an interview for their Pop Vox blog with Newsweek’s Nicki Gostin, actor Ewan McGregor repeats his mantra that "There’s nothing anti-Catholic or anti-church or anything that challenges people’s beliefs in the film."

That’s an interesting thing to say when your character is supposedly an idealistic Catholic priest who ends up being the film’s supervillain, poisoning the Pope and murdering Cardinals, until he finds out he was the Pope’s son (by artificial insemination). Learning that he poisoned his own father, he commits suicide. He’s a perfect portrait in Catholic corruption. But McGregor wants us to buy the notion that none of this "challenges people’s beliefs" about the Church:

Newsweek: This movie hasn't been getting a lot of press. No controversy around it.

Ewan McGregor: It's not really controversial, there's nothing controversial in it.

Newsweek: Well, the church doesn't exactly like it.

McGregor: The church didn't like The Da Vinci Code, and I think it's a carryover from that. There's nothing anti-Catholic or anti-church or anything that challenges people's beliefs in this film. It really is a kind of old-fashioned thriller set against the backdrop of the Vatican, which is an interesting world, I suppose, which we don't know much about.

Newsweek: Are you Catholic?

McGregor: No.

Newsweek: So you weren't offended.

McGregor: I wouldn't have been involved in a film that I thought was anti- anybody's religion. I'm not interested in doing that. People are asking me what I think about the controversy about the film, but I'd like someone to tell me what it is.

That's when Nicki Gostin tried to play coy about the plot, obscuring why anyone would think the movie's anti-Catholic:  

Newsweek: Not to give anything away, but in the film there are some clergy that are corrupt. That would be controversial, right?

McGregor: That would be controversial? Would it? The very fact that the corrupt clergymen get their comeuppance at the end of the film and it's quite clear that the rest of the church stands against them, it's not in any way suggesting that the church as a body is condoning any kind of corruption, so in that respect, it's not controversial.

Is McGregor really that disingenuous? Even if the villains die at the end, the movie has still mangled facts by insisting the Catholic Church brutally slaughtered the Illuminati in the 1600s -- when there was no murders, and the Illuminati wasn't founded until 1776.

Everyone associated with this movie seems to find it necessary to mislead the public about its contents.

PS: Newsweek's online workers were more flippant about The DaVinci Code.

(McGregor image from darkhorizons.com)

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis