"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?"
James McAvoy (April 21, 1979-) is a Scottish actor known for a variety of well-received roles and memorable characters. He jump-started his career as Steve from Shameless
and went on to star in Band of Brothers
, which first brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
From being once solely known as "that guy who played Mr. Tumnus
," McAvoy has since achieved mainstream success and acclaim after starring as the lead roles in Academy Award
as Robbie Turner
and The Last King of Scotland
as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan
, as well as box office hits Wanted
as Wesley Gibson
, and, more recently, X-Men: First Class
plus its sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past
as the young Charles Xavier
McAvoy describes himself as "not ugly, but not your classic lead man, Brad Pitt
guy." His fans beg to disagree
He is known for his strikingly blue eyes
, red lips and crying in pretty much every movie he's ever been in
He is married to fellow Shameless
actress Anne Marie Duff, has a son and currently resides in London.
- Ability Over Appearance: He was cast in Trance and Filth despite the directors initially believing he looked wrong for the role.
"What's strange is that both those movies, the director thought I wasn't right for it, thought I was too young to do it, didn't have enough darkness," the actor reflected on the two roles. "And yet, for some reason, when I went in and auditioned for Danny [Boyle] and then had a conversation with [Filth director] Jon S. Baird, they seemed to change their mind."
- Adorkable/Typecasting: He has played cute nerds in the 2002 miniseries White Teeth, Starter For 10, The Last Station, X-Men: First Class and Arthur Christmas. Presumably the actor tends to gravitate towards these roles because he's a geek in Real Life (e.g. his favourite fandom is Star Trek).
- Badass: He performed almost all of his own stunts in Welcome to the Punch, as you can see in this featurette.
- Character Tics: He randomly licks his lower lip, and this habit is sometimes unintentionally transferred to his film/TV roles. (The director either doesn't notice or doesn't care.)
- Dyeing for Your Art: Bleached his hair to play the blond punk Rory O'Shea.
- To play the alcoholic, fast-food and drug junkie cop Bruce Robertson in Filth, James gained 14 pounds, started Chain-smoking and drank almost half a bottle of whiskey every evening to give himself the worn-out and repulsive appearance that was necessary for this character to play.
- Even the Guys Want Him:
- A male journalist from CraveOnline.ca (who is presumably straight) gushes over the actor's attractiveness:
"When James McAvoy stares at himself naked in the mirror (and I think most of us would if we looked like James McAvoy), I have a sneaking suspicion that he scowls. He's such a damned pretty human being, but if you look at his films, he only really seems to get off on playing total bastards. The endangered subconscious of Simon from Trance. The easily corrupted Dr. Garrigan from The Last King of Scotland. Even Professor Charles Xavier seems kind of like a dickbag when James McAvoy gets a hold of him. McAvoy's boyish good looks and playful sleaziness make these scoundrels much more charismatic than they by all rights deserve, and his performance in Filth may be his assholish pièce de résistance."
- Benedict Cumberbatch thinks that James is gorgeous.
"I have wanted to play roles that have gone to much better-looking people than me and you think: 'Oh well, that's the pin-up guy's part...' for an actor like my friend James McAvoy, who's gorgeous on screen."
- Daniel Radcliffe may have a bit of a man crush on McAvoy:
"I don't view my face as particularly interesting to watch, whereas some actors you can't take your eyes off, like James McAvoy. I think I could watch him read the phone book."
- Evil Chef: His character Joe Macbeth racks up a high body count.
- Fake American: In Wanted, The Conspirator and The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby.
- Fake Irish: As Rory in Inside I'm Dancing. His accent is extremely convincing.
- Fan Community Nicknames: His die-hard fans call themselves McAvoyeurs.
- Innocent Blue Eyes/Pretty Boy:
- His boyish beauty (which includes his bright, baby blue irises) is sometimes emphasized by a director to denote the character's goodness and naïvety, such as Robbie Turner, Valentin Bulgakov (The Last Station) and Charles Xavier.
- As the teenaged and virginal Leto Atreides II (Children of Dune), the camera angles and close-ups often focus on his physical beauty, and it symbolizes what a huge personal sacrifice it is for him to give up his own humanity (by transforming into a grotesque Sand Worm) so that he can initiate the Golden Path and save humankind from extinction.
- Subverted with Simon Newton. His youthful facial features tend to be highlighted, and he initially appears to be the most sympathetic character in the film, but it's later revealed that Simon is an abusive, violent boyfriend and a murderer.
- Mr. Fanservice:
- He spends a large amount of his screen time in Children of Dune looking like a shirtless Adonis.
- In The Last King of Scotland, he can be seen in various stages of undress, including a moment where his character is butt-naked.
- Has a scene in Wanted where he's both bare-chested and dripping wet.
- Is briefly nude in Trance.
- Older Than They Look: He appears a few years younger than his actual age. Especially when he is clean shaven. Guess on which ones he is older ◊ ; ◊
- For X-Men: Days of Future Past, Honest Trailers made the mistake of describing McAvoy's character as a "young man," a term usually reserved for males who are under 30; Xavier is in his late thirties/early forties in 1973, but it's easy to forget that because of the actor's youthfulness.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Occasionally, especially when his character is screaming or crying.
- One of Us/Promoted Fanboy/Proud to Be a Geek/Trekkie: Cited Captain Kirk from Star Trek as the hero he'd most like to meet, joked that one of the reasons he wanted to play Charles Xavier was so that he can embody a young Captain Picard, was a huge fan of the Dune novels prior to starring in the Children of Dune miniseries, and has been seen in a Cheetara T-shirt several times. He's also a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, and considers it an honour to have been able to play Mr. Tumnus, who was his second favourite character in the books (Aslan being his ultimate favourite). He was also fond of the X-Men animated series when he was younger.
- Playing Against Type:
- Many people were surprised to see him as the greasy, racist, misogynist, homophobic, fast-food and drug junkie cop Bruce Robertson in Filth.
- You wouldn't expect a slim, 5'7", non-macho actor be the star of an action movie, but he got to do just that in Wanted.
- Romance on the Set: His wife was once his co-star on Shameless.
- Squee: He gets to play a scene with Sir Patrick Stewart, whom he is a fan of, in X-Men: Days of Future Past and isn't shy about expressing how much that delights him in interviews. The Blu-Ray release includes a featurette called "Double Take: Xavier & Magneto" where McAvoy can't stop fanboy-ing over Stewart.
- Star-Making Role: His career has had a much more gradual climb than most established actors. He first got noticed by international audiences with The Chronicles of Narnia, received critical acclaim for his performances in The Last King of Scotland and Atonement, and mainstream audiences now recognize him as the younger Professor X after the release of X-Men: First Class.
- Vocal Dissonance: For such a physically small man, he has a fairly deep, manly voice.
- What Beautiful Eyes: Got the part as Robbie Turner in Atonement because the character is described as having eyes of optimism, and so does James:
Joe Wright: He has his eye on a very bright horizon.