James McAvoy – MovieActors.com

james-mcavoy
James McAvoy in Split.

About James McAvoy (1979 – ____)

James McAvoy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Elizabeth (née Johnstone), a psychiatric nurse, and James McAvoy, Sr., a builder. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic. His parents divorced when he was seven. McAvoy's mother suffered from poor health and subsequently decided it was best that he live with his maternal grandparents, Mary and James Johnstone, a butcher who lived in a terraced council house in the nearby Drumchapel area of Glasgow. His mother lived with them intermittently. The actor has a sister, Joy, and a younger half-brother, Donald.

McAvoy has not been in contact with his father since childhood. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow, a Catholic school, and briefly considered joining the Catholic priesthood. During his education, he worked at a local bakery.

McAvoy's acting debut came at the age of 15 in The Near Room (1995). He later admitted that he was not very interested in acting when joining the movie, but was inspired to study the craft after developing feelings for his co-star, Alana Brady. He continued to act while still a member of PACE Youth Theatre. McAvoy eventually graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000. Throughout the early 2000s, he made guest appearances in TV shows and began working on movies. In 2001, McAvoy's performance as a gay hustler in the play Out in the Open impressed director Joe Wright so much that Wright began offering McAvoy parts in his films. McAvoy kept declining them, however, and it wasn't until six years later that the two actually worked together.

He also starred in Privates on Parade in the Donmar Warehouse, this time catching Sam Mendes' attention. Also in 2001, the actor appeared as Private James W. Miller in Band of Brothers, an eleven-hour World War II miniseries by executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. This is the same miniseries in which his future co-star, Michael Fassbender, played the role of Burton "Pat" Christenson. He gained the attention of critics in 2002's White Teeth, a four-part television drama miniseries adaption based on the novel of the same name by Zadie Smith.

In 2003, McAvoy appeared in the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries Children of Dune, adapted from Frank Herbert's novels. More cable work came when he accepted the role of an unprincipled reporter in 2003's State of Play. The six-part British drama serial tells the story of a newspaper's investigation into the death of a young woman. In 2002, McAvoy shot scenes for Bollywood Queen, described as West Side Story meets Romeo and Juliet with bindis, the movie deals with star-crossed lovers caught in the middle of clashing cultures. In 2004, he acted in a supporting role in the romcom Wimbledon, also featuring Kirsten Dunst as a co-lead. His next project was voicing a character named Hal in the 2004 English version of Strings, a mythic fantasy film. Another 2004 release for him was Inside I'm Dancing, an Irish production directed by Damien O'Donnell alongside fellow Scotsman Steven Robertson.

McAvoy ended 2004 by appearing in the first two seasons of Shameless as Steve McBride. His public profile was raised considerably in 2005 with the release of Walt Disney Pictures's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. McAvoy starred in the fantasy adventure film made by Andrew Adamson and based on C. S. Lewis's children's novel as Mr. Tumnus, a faun who befriends Lucy Pevensie (played by Georgie Henley) and joins Aslan (Liam Neeson)'s forces. That succeeding year he also accepted the principal role of Brian Jackson, a nerdy university student who wins a place on a University Challenge quiz team in the mid-1980s, in Starter for 10. He was directed by David Nicholls, who adapted the film's screenplay from his own book. In spite of the positive buzz, it flopped at the box office.

Forest Whitaker had suggested McAvoy to director Kevin Macdonald for the role of Nicholas Garrigan in 2006's Academy Award-winning low-budget film The Last King of Scotland. McAvoy portrayed a Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician to dictator Idi Amin (Whittaker) while in Uganda. While the movie is based on factual events of Amin's rule, the details of the story are fictional and adapted from Giles Foden's acclaimed 1998 novel. McAvoy considered his character to be a "completely selfish prick". An overwhelmed McAvoy fainted during his first take of what would be the hardest scene for him to shoot, which depicted Nicolas's torture.

Following that, he played Irish attorney Tom Lefroy and love-interest to Jane Austen in Becoming Jane, a 2007 historical movie inspired by the author's early life. Next up was Penelope, which starred co-producer Reese Witherspoon, and sparked polarized reviews.

The breakthrough role in McAvoy's career came in Atonement, Joe Wright's 2007 adaption of Ian McEwan's novel of the same title. A romantic war film, it focuses on lovers Cecilia and Robbie's (Keira Knightley and McAvoy) lives torn apart after her jealous younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan) falsely accuses him of rape. Upon reading the script, McAvoy said he thought "If I don't get the part I'm not reading the book because it'll be devastating. It's an amazing role and I really wanted it." McAvoy has called the movie "incredibly sad" but considered it an uplifting experience. The film was lauded by critics, with Metacritic reporting it to have an approval rating of 85. Hollywood Reporter writer Ray Bennett said the duo gave "compelling and charismatic performances".

One of the biggest highlights of McAvoy's career was starring with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in Wanted, an action film where he portrayed Wesley Gibson, an American slacker who learns he is heir to a legacy of assassins. When McAvoy screen-tested for the role, he was initially rejected because the studio was seeking an actor with conventional Hollywood leading-man looks and physique. He later recalled being considered the "runt of the litter" of those who tested, but ultimately got the role in late 2006 since the studio "wanted someone geeky".

Loosely based on the comic book miniseries of the same name by Mark Millar, it saw a June 2008 release worldwide and received favorable reviews. At the box office, Wanted was a success, grossing $341 million against a $75 million production budget. Next came The Last Station (2009), a biopic that details the final months of celebrated writer Leo Tolstoy and also stars Anne-Marie Duff, McAvoy's wife at the time. It was shown at a limited number of screens in the US. Although most critics' awards paid attention to co-stars Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, the Satellite Awards nominated McAvoy for Best Supporting Actor. In 2009, McAvoy voiced Angelina's father, Maurice Mouseling, in the television series, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps.

In Robert Redford's historical American drama The Conspirator, McAvoy played the role of an idealistic war hero who reluctantly defends a co-conspirator charged in the Abraham Lincoln assassination. While this movie received mixed reviews, critics lauded the actor for his work.

In mid-2010, McAvoy was cast as telepathic superhero Professor X, leader and founder of the X-Men, in X-Men: First Class. He joined an ensemble that included Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon. Based on the Marvel Comics and a prequel to the film series, it is set primarily during the build-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses on the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the origin of their groups. McAvoy did not read comics as a child, and thus was unfamiliar with the Stan Lee originals which began publication in the 1960s, but was a fan of the X-Men animated cartoon series. Released to the UK on 1 June, First Class topped its box office with ticket sales of around £5 million in its opening weekend. First Class was also reviewed favorably, and McAvoy's performance was widely praised. In 2011, McAvoy began filming the role of Max Lewinsky in the British thriller Welcome to the Punch. He played the lead role in the Danny Boyle film Trance.

In 2012, McAvoy was cast as Bruce Robertson in Filth, an adaptation of an Irvine Welsh novel of the same name. The film's ensemble cast includes Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, and Imogen Poots. For his role, McAvoy won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards in December 2013. It was also announced that he would co-star with Jessica Chastain in a double-feature film project, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

McAvoy reprised his role as Professor X in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), which grossed $747.9 million worldwide. In 2016, he starred in the M. Night Shyamalan thriller Split. His performance was praised by critics, with some hailing it as the best of his career.

While working on Shameless, McAvoy started a relationship with Anne-Marie Duff, who played his character's love interest, and they married in October 2006. They have one child together, a son named Brendan (b. 2010). In May 2016, McAvoy and Duff jointly announced their decision to divorce. To minimize disruption to Brendan's life, they still share a home in North London when not working elsewhere.

After McAvoy won the "Rising Star" award from the BAFTAs, his estranged father spoke to the Sunday Mirror, stating that he would love to get in touch with his son, but did not know how to reach him. Though the actor did not read the piece, he heard about it and was unmoved.

McAvoy's big interest outside acting and science fiction is football; he is a huge fan of Celtic Football Club, stating that his dream role would be to play Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone.

Speaking to Sky News, McAvoy said he believed that British filmmakers belittle and dumb down their productions to please American audiences. "It's like we're patronizing them and short changing ourselves," the actor commented. He had previously called 3-D films a "waste of money", accusing film studios of using the technology to squeeze more money out of their theatre audiences.

At one point, McAvoy did a "terrifying" BASE jump from the world's tallest hospital building in a bid to help raise money for Ugandan children's charity Retrak, an organization which assists children on the streets. Additionally, McAvoy is a celebrity supporter of the British Red Cross with whom he travelled to Uganda to raise awareness of the projects there. He had become involved with the charity after shooting The Last King of Scotland there for several months and was shocked by what he saw. In February 2007, he visited northern Uganda and spent four days seeing projects supported by the British Red Cross.

James McAvoy's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
1995The Near RoomKevin Savage
1997An Angel Passes ByLocal boy
1997RegenerationAnthony Balfour
2001Swimming PoolMike
2003Bright Young ThingsThe Earl of Balcairn
2003Bollywood QueenJay
2004WimbledonCarl Colt
2004StringsHal Tara (voice)
2004Inside I'm DancingRory O'Shea
2005The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeMr. Tumnus
2006The Last King of ScotlandDr. Nicholas Garrigan
2006Starter for 10Brian Jackson
2007Becoming JaneThomas Lefroy
2007PenelopeJohnny Martin/Max Campion
2007AtonementRobbie Turner
2008WantedWesley A. Gibson
2009The Last StationValentin Bulgakov
2011Gnomeo and JulietGnomeo (voice)
2011The ConspiratorFrederick Aiken
2011X-Men: First ClassCharles Xavier / Professor X
2011Arthur ChristmasArthur (voice)
2013Welcome to the PunchMax Lewinsky
2013TranceSimon Newton
2013FilthBruce Robertson
2014Muppets Most WantedDelivery Man
2014X-Men: Days of Future PastCharles Xavier / Professor X
2014The Disappearance of Eleanor RigbyConor Ludlow
2015Victor FrankensteinVictor Frankenstein
2016X-Men: ApocalypseCharles Xavier / Professor X
2016SplitKevin Wendell Crumb
2017Atomic BlondePercival
2017SubmergenceJames Moore

James McAvoy's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1997The BillGavin Donald
2001Band of BrothersPvt. James W. Miller
2001Lorna DooneSergeant Bloxham
2001Murder in MindMartin Vosper
2002White TeethJosh Malfen
2002The Inspector Lynley MysteriesGowan Ross
2002Foyle's WarRay Pritchard
2003Frank Herbert's Children of DuneLeto II Atreides
2003State of PlayDan Foster
2003Early DoorsLiam
2004–05ShamelessSteve McBride
2005ShakespeaRe-ToldJoe Macbeth
2017Watership DownHazel

Memorable Quotes by James McAvoy

“ We're in a horrible, repugnant place now where kids are told it's their right and due to be hugely famous. Not good at their job, not good at anything, just hugely famous. This is not sane. Little girls think they'll be famous if they have vast breast implants and might as well die if they don't. ”

“ Where it gets difficult is when you get two or three jobs back to back where you're playing leads and doing 13, 14 hours a day, six days a week, and you suddenly think, hang on a minute, how can you have a life like this? Do I work to live or live to work? How can I work properly with no life to inform the work? ”

“ I'm 5 foot 7, and I've got pasty white skin. I don't think I'm ugly, don't get me wrong, but I'm not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt guy. ”

“ The thing that attracts me to all the jobs I've done over the last few years was the offer of employment. I've had to audition for every single job I've ever done, I think. So it's not just a question of being attracted. Yes, I like the things I've done, and I've been very lucky that the things I've done - I think - have a certain level of quality. But had I only got parts that were rubbish, I'd be doing them as well, because I'm an actor and I need the work. But I'm getting a little more choice. When I read The Last King of Scotland (2006), I thought this is excellent, and I'd be very lucky to get this. That was my choice, but afterward I still had to convince somebody else to choose me. ”

[When asked what an actor should never do] “ Read reviews. You just try and do your job and not worry about what people say, because ultimately it can only affect what you do in a negative way. It can only make you a worse actor. ”

“ I don't have a middle name. If I had to take one, I'd like something Scottish like Hamish or Cameron. ”

Things You May Not Know About James McAvoy

As a child, he wanted to become a missionary because he wanted to travel the world.

Worked out to improve his physique for the action scenes in Wanted (2008). However he suffered several injuries during shooting, including a twisted ankle and an injured knee.

He says the script for Atonement (2007) was the best he'd ever read.

He was inspired to become an actor after meeting actor/director David Hayman.

His fans refer to themselves as "McAvoyeurs".

McAvoy broke his hand on the set of Split (2016) after he got angry at not getting a scene. He became so annoyed with his performance that he ended up hitting a door, which he thought was a fake door, but it was a solid metal door. Viewers can see that James's hand is injured during the scene where he's on a train and he's putting on his glasses.

James McAvoy in Split (2017).
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James McAvoy in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).
_0002_x-men-first-class-pic1 _0001_x-men-first-class-pic2-with-rose-byrne-michael-fassbender _0000_x-men-first-class-pic3
McAvoy in X-Men: First Class (2011)... middle
picture with Rose Byrne and Michael Fassbender.
McAvoy in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)... top picture
with Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Jackman. Middle picture with Michael
Fassbender. Bottom picture with Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender.
_0010_welcome-to-the-punch-pic1-with-david-morrissey
McAvoy in Welcome to the Punch (2013)... top picture with
David Morrissey... third picture with Andrea Riseborough...
bottom picture with Peter Mullan, Ruth Sheen, and Mark Strong.
_0014_wanted-pic1-with-angelina-jolie-and-common _0013_wanted-pic2-with-morgan-freeman star _0011_wanted-pic4
In Wanted (2008)... top picture with Angelina Jolie and Common...
second picture with Morgan Freeman... third picture with Angelina Jolie.
With Daniel Radcliffe in Victor Frankenstein (2015).
_0023_trance-pic1-with-vincent-cassel _0022_trance-pic2 _0021_trance-pic3 _0020_trance-pic4 _0019_trance-pic5 _0018_trance-pic6
In Trance (2013)... top picture with Vincent Cassel.
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In The Last Station (2009)... top picture with Paul Giamatti...
third picture with Helen Mirren... bottom picture with Kerry Condon.
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McAvoy and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland (2006).
With Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (2014).
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With Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014).
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In The Conspirator (2011)... third picture
with Tom Wilkinson... bottom picture with Robin Wright.
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McAvoy in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005)...
bottom picture with Georgie Henley.
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In Starter for 10 (2006)... top picture with Benedict Cumberbatch... middle picture with Cumberbatch and Alice Eve... bottom picture with Cumberbatch, Eve, and Mark Gatiss.
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In Penelope (2007)... top picture with Christina Ricci.
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McAvoy in Inside I'm Dancing (2004)... bottom picture with Romola Garai.
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In Filth (2013)... second picture with Jamie Bell... third picture with Imogen Poots.
With Alec Newman in Frank Herbert's Children of Dune (2003).
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As Private James W. Miller in Band of Brothers (2001).
James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement (2007).