Gained recognition as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He has also starred in such films as Big Fish, Beginners and Trainspotting and he was cast as Lumiere in the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast. He was voted the 36th best actor of all time by Empire magazine in 1997.
While attending the Guidhall School of Music and Drama, he gained the leading role in Lipstick on Your Collar. He made his film debut as Alvarez in the 1994 movie Being Human.
His uncle and aunt, Denis Lawson and Sheila Gish, are also actors. He married Eve Mavrakis in 1995 and he has four daughters, Clara, Esther, Anouk and Jamyan; he filed for divorce in 2018. In November 2017, he went public with his relationship with actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
He starred as a heroin addict named Mark Renton in the 1996 British crime drama Trainspotting, which was directed by Danny Boyle.