It sounds like the plot to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. It involves an A-list star, his understudy, and a violent death threat. Unfortunately for Ewan McGregor, it is the reality unfolding on the set of his new movie.
Production of The Impossible, currently shooting in Phang-nga, Thailand, has been halted after the actor received a death threat from an extra on set. The offending actor, who has not been named, was found in McGregor's trailer writing threats in the form of a poem to the Scottish actor.
The poem, which described McGregor's death, included the line: "Twisting the knife as I look into your eyes."
A crew member working for local production company Santa Films said: "We could not call Thai police because the man had only written poetry, and they would be unlikely to understand. Instead there was no confrontation. The extra was told that he would not be needed for a week and he would be called when it was time. He was not called. He looked a little wide-eyed and preoccupied. The producers decided that he was a serious risk."
The Impossible is directed by Juan Antonio Bayona – best known for making the 2007 Spanish language thriller The Orphanage – and also stars the Australian actress Naomi Watts and British actor Tom Holland.
The film follows one family's experiences during the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. McGregor and Watts play a couple, Henry and Marta, who are on holiday with their sons Tom, Simon and Lucas. The family is shown enjoying time by the swimming pool before they are swept away.
The crew member said the offending actor, described as "an American man living in Thailand", was never on set at the same time as McGregor, although he had been allowed to use the actor's temporary trailer.
"I understand he later applied for a position on Scorpion King 3 which is filming in Thailand at the moment," added the crew member. "I hope there is no further problem."
Another crew member played down the unknown actor's role on set. He said: "His position as stand-in was not important. It just means he is on set when McGregor is not and stands in so the cameraman can see what the scene will look like. It's only paid about £60 a day."
Earlier this month, Watts said some of the film's scenes had been upsetting for her two young sons, Sasha, 3, and Samuel, 2. "It was quite difficult for them because they saw Mummy in a bad condition," she said. "So I had to explain that these cries of pain were just pretend. It took a little while. We prepped them for days in advance by showing them how you can put a little bit of fake blood on and then you can just rub it off."
McGregor is currently impressing US audiences with his latest film, a comedy called I Love You Phillip Morris, in which a happily married man comes to terms with his long-dormant homosexuality after a car accident.
It was also revealed this month that the Scottish actor is to reprise his role as Renton, from Danny Boyle's celebrated 1996 movie Trainspotting, based on the Irvine Welsh novel.
"It will happen," said Boyle. "It would be wonderful thing where they've all aged into a mid-life crisis."
Filming for The Impossible took place in a studio containing a wave tank in Alicante, Spain, before moving to Thailand. The movie set to be released in 2011.