Taking to the stage at the Beverly Hilton, a Golden Globe pressed into his hand, actor Ewan McGregor said: ‘I want to take a moment to just say thank you to Eve, who always stood by me for 22 years. And my four children, I love you.’
In the usual run of things, a heartfelt thanks to one’s wife and children during awards season is to be expected. Except that on Sunday night, everyone watching knew that in this case it was something rather out of the ordinary.
For, just seven months ago, McGregor walked out on Eve, his wife of more than two decades, in favour of his much-younger co-star in the TV series Fargo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Why, you may ask, was he paying such a sweet tribute to the woman who had loved him with her whole heart (from the hell-raising years post-Trainspotting, right through to the current incarnation) so soon after dumping her? Cynics might suggest that the actor, 46, was trying to claw back some good PR in the teeth of a dismaying break-up.
Just seven months ago, McGregor walked out on Eve, his wife of more than two decades, in favour of his much-younger co-star in the TV series Fargo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (pictured)
Indeed, in the hours which followed his surprising acceptance speech, many luvvie voices on social media hailed his ‘guts’ in mentioning his wife in the same breath as his new girlfriend, whom he also thanked by name.
The prevailing message was that Ewan’s convention-busting speech was a display of gracious good manners. His decision to walk the red carpet solo, without his new woman (who, at 33, is nearly 20 years younger than his 51-year-old wife), was interpreted in the same light: to be the ‘good guy’.
Just five miles away in another corner of Los Angeles, though, it appears the speech did not go down as well as he’d hoped.
So hurt was French-born Eve — discreet, dignified and supportive, and who hasn’t spoken a bad word about her husband, despite serious provocation over the years — that she finally broke her silence.
Speaking from the rather splendid Spanish-style former marital home in genteel Brentwood, a suburb of Los Angeles, she said simply, ‘No, I did not like his speech,’ when approached by the Mail this week.
Why not? ‘For the same reasons you are here asking me about it,’ she replied, before adding: ‘I am not going to say any more.’
The only interpretation of those words, spoken very calmly, is that the humiliation caused by her husband’s behaviour has become too much.
Ever since the tumultuous events of last spring and summer, Eve has attempted to keep life as happy as possible for the couple’s four daughters, who range in age from six to 21.
To this end, Eve and her girls have just returned from a New Year Caribbean holiday as a fivesome.
She has also introduced a new family member — Azure, a hairless pedigree kitten, who is especially doted on by the middle daughters Esther and Jamiyan, both 16.
(Jamiyan was adopted from Mongolia by the couple, and the youngest girl, Anouk, was also adopted, in 2011).
The family celebrated Christmas without McGregor, star of Trainspotting and Star Wars. The five of them also celebrated Hanukkah on December 13, with homemade doughnuts with honey and orange blossom water — which Eve, who is Jewish, proudly observed were made by her from a family recipe.
‘No, I did not like his speech' said French born Eve Mavrakis about Ewan McGregor's speech
Ewan, meanwhile, has moved to a bachelor pad nearby, taking with him his vintage Rolls-Royce, collection of motorbikes, his camper van and — in November — his valuable art works; a final painful affirmation that he won’t be back.
Eve, a production designer who put her own career on hold to raise their family, is now left to contemplate divorce.
As they have lived in California since 2008, she will be entitled to file for divorce out there and can expect to get 50 per cent of his £26 million fortune, plus ongoing child support.
Papers have yet to be submitted to court and none of the higher-profile attorneys in Los Angeles were saying this week if they were acting for either party.
Indeed, unlike Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who each engaged legal teams from several big-hitting firms, but have yet to actually reach a settlement, Eve and Ewan seem to have not even taken initial steps in the process. The reason, it seems, is her utter devastation at this wholly unexpected turn of events.
Eve, a production designer who put her own career on hold to raise their family, is now left to contemplate divorce from husband Ewan McGregor, they are pictured here at the exclusive Filmmakers Dinner during the Cannes International Film Festival in 2012
In all interviews over decades — and as recently as last year — Ewan insisted on her paramount importance to him.
As she mused on Instagram in November, in bewilderment: ‘What can I do?’ One source suggested this week that she is still hopeful of a reconciliation.
Her New Year message, posted on Instagram, again reveals a very hurt woman. ‘I am so thankful for my loving, caring girls,’ Eve writes.
The protective reactions of her oldest daughter, Clara, who is a model and actress, point in the same direction.
In the days after Ewan’s liaison became public, Clara posted a picture of her mum, with her father cropped out, and the caption: ‘How frickin gorgeous is my mama?? Strongest, smartest most loving woman I know. My rock.’
It turns out that Eve is being supported by a large group of loving friends, who include the supermodel-turned-filmmaker Christy Turlington and her actor husband Ed Burns, the photographer Christy Schnabel and socialite Gina Goldman Schupfer.
Aussie power couple Craig and Christine Gillespie — he directed the forthcoming Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya — are also very firmly on Team Eve, and they invited her to a screening of the film in LA last week rather than Ewan.
Ewan McGregor accepting the award for best actor in a limited series or motion picture made for TV for his role in Fargo at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - he thanked both his wife and lover in the speech
Eve’s sadness and emotional frailty is so evident that Ewan’s mum, Carol, has been at pains to send regular supportive messages via social media.
His affair took everyone by surprise. In 2016, Ewan was cast in the edgy series Fargo, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead — married to a TV writer and distantly related to the late bombshell Ava Gardner — chosen to play his love interest. The show was filmed in snowy Alberta, Canada, from January to April.
Winstead came over for dinner to the McGregors’ in December 2016. At this dinner, with the children present, she apparently gigglingly confessed to having had a crush on Ewan when she was a teenager. In May, McGregor and Winstead returned to their respective homes and told their spouses that the marriages were now over.
In June, Mary Elizabeth announced that she had split from her husband of seven years, Riley Stearns. She said: ‘We’ve decided to move on from our marriage, but we will stay best friends and collaborators for all our days.
‘We are still ride or die, just in a different way now. I love you always, Riley.’
Not long after, Riley closed his Twitter account, saying: ‘Keep almost tweeting stuff I shouldn’t so I am saying bye for a while.’
But on the McGregor side, it seems that Eve was hanging on. On June 3, she posted a picture of Ewan playing a guitar in Montreal, captioned: ‘My love plays the blues.’ It was only delaying the inevitable. In October, Ewan and his new love made a trip to the UK. They were spotted kissing in a restaurant near to Ewan and Eve’s London base in St John’s Wood, and friends confirmed that Ewan had left his wife.
He and Mary were then seen together at the Lime Wood Hotel in Hampshire and on a trip to the Scottish highlands.
Sources indicate that Ewan had announced to his wife in May that he was in love with his Fargo co-star, but insisted nothing had happened between them.
Ewan McGregor and daughter Clara McGregor pose during the party for the performance of Much Ado About Nothing in 2010. The model has come to the defence of her mother since her parents split
A source said: ‘Ewan and Eve were a very affectionate and loving couple, but it all changed over the summer. It was very abrupt.
‘He came back from Fargo and it was clear he and Mary had become close. He insisted that nothing physical happened between them and Eve accepted that.
‘They tried to make their marriage work after he told her, but about a month later it was clear Ewan had made his decision.’
Another source adds: ‘Eve is sure Ewan and Mary were together before he confessed his feelings for her. It is hard for her to believe him. Eve is doing her best to handle it with dignity.’
Eve’s life story is easily the equal of any of the dramas her estranged husband has acted out.
Born in the Dordogne, she was raised in China by her devoutly communist parents.
Her Greek father, Kostas, was a Marxist-Leninist professor who authored a controversial book about Trotsky in 1973. At that time he was a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Paris VIII.
He then moved to Beijing with Eve, an infant, her older sister Marianne and her mother Annie who is French and Sephardi Jewish, and also ardently communist. The parents are thought to have taught French at what was then called Peking University.
Eve spent her childhood years in China, attending a local school. Both girls became completely fluent Chinese speakers — an early professional credit is acting as a translator in China on the set of the film Empire Of The Sun.
The family then moved back to France — she and Ewan met on the set of ITV legal drama Kavanagh QC, and were married in 1995 in a small village near Besancon in the east of France.
Ewan, the son of teachers from Perthshire, was just 24 at the time. In an interview in 2015, he said: ‘It was fantastic, in a way. I was living out my dream of being an actor and I was doing a lot of wild partying. So she was with me through all of that craziness.’ He later said: ‘I knew right then that I really wanted to be with her and I knew I wanted to be with her in a different way to all the other many, many, many women I had been with up until that point.
‘And I wasn’t wrong. I made the right choice.’
Daughter Clara was born in February 1996, the same month Trainspotting was released.
They bought a big house in London and Ewan started to learn French so that he could understand his daughter, who was being raised bilingual.
When the children were small he would insist on bringing them on set with him.
He’s also joked about how ‘difficult’ French women are, but always then added he liked difficult women. ‘Seeing my kids and being with my wife. That makes me truly happy,’ he said last year.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor began dating after meeting on the set of Fargo. She is pictured here in 2012
Ewan was the subject of persistent rumours about on-set flirtations, but always denied rumours of a fling with Nicole Kidman, his co-star in Moulin Rouge, and Renee Zellweger, in Down With Love and Miss Potter.
The trouble, though, was his drinking. He said of Moulin Rouge, which was filmed in Australia: ‘That was the darkest time, really. The film was one of the biggest and most amazing things I’ve ever been involved in, but I was out of control. I couldn’t keep all the balls in the air, if you like.
‘Being a dad, being a husband, being an actor and being a drinker just didn’t fit together, and the only one I was prepared to lose was that one. So I just kicked it.’
He has been teetotal since 2000 with the aid of a therapist and at one time attended AA meetings.
By 2005, he had bought a holiday house for the family in Venice Beach, California, and soon afterwards they relocated to America permanently.
He said: ‘When you’re far away from home it’s awful not to be with them. You just worry yourself to death. Wherever Eve and the kids are is home.’
Recently, he had a massive tattoo on his shoulder of a huge heart, and in it, in curling script, the names of his children and his wife.
On Thursday night, however, he was back in his tuxedo to collect another award for Fargo.
On this occasion, however, Mary Elizabeth, looking loved-up and every bit the celebrity girlfriend in £6,500 Delpozo gown, was very much by his side.
Before stepping up to the podium, Ewan bent down to give her a kiss. No more pretence. No more Mr Nice Guy.
One can only hope that poor Eve was looking away.