McAvoy was raised in Drumchapel, Glasgow, by his grandparents after his father, also called James and a roofer by trade, abandoned his mother when James Jr. was 7. He went to St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow, where he did well enough and started "a little school band with a couple of mates".
McAvoy toyed with the idea of the Catholic priesthood as a child but when he was 16, a visit to the school by actor David Hayman sparked an interest in acting. Hayman offered him a part in his film The Near Room (1995) but despite enjoying the experience McAvoy didn't seriously consider acting as a career, though he did continue to act as a member of PACE Youth Theatre. He applied instead to the Royal Navy and had already been accepted when he was also offered a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
He took the place at RSAMD and when he graduated in 2000, he moved to London. He'd already made a couple of TV appearances by this time and continued to get a steady stream of TV and movie work until he came to British public attention in 2004 playing Steve McBride in the successful UK TV series "Shameless" (2004) and then to the rest of the world in 2005 as Mr Tumnus in Disney's adaptation of 'C. S. Lewis''s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).
Since then he and his easy facility with accents (no, wait, what? he's Scottish?) have been much in demand.
|Anne-Marie Duff||(18 October 2006 - present) 1 child|
Trained at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
McAvoy and Jessica Brooks were the first actors to tackle the complex roles Leto II & his twin sister Ghanima Atreides, the strange prescient "Children of Dune" (2003) based on Frank Herbert's novel of the same name. Although Leto and Ghanima were only nine years old in the novel, their ages were bumped up about seven years, making them about sixteen for the Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries in March 2003.
His younger sister is Joy McAvoy, a singer in the Scottish girl group Streetside.
His parents divorced when he was seven.
As a child, he wanted to become a missionary.
After his parents divorced, McAvoy and his sister moved in with their maternal grandparents, James and Mary Johnstone.
After growing up in Glasgow, he moved to London at the age of 20.
Before he went into acting, he wanted to join the Navy.
While filming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Georgie Henley never saw McAvoy in his Mr. Tumnus costume before filming their scenes together. Henley's scared reaction upon seeing McAvoy is genuine surprise.
Former roommate of Jesse Spencer when they were both living in London.
Fan of Celtic Football Club.
Born to James McAvoy, a builder, and his then wife Elizabeth Johnstone, a psychiatric nurse.
Attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow. Also attended by Tom Mannion.
Was ranked #18 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).
While growing up, he wanted to be a priest.
Chosen as one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive for 2007.
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.
Said the script for Atonement (2007) was the best he had ever read.
He and his wife, Anne-Marie Duff, are expecting their first child [January 26, 2010].
His favorite director is Ken Loach.
Was inspired to become an actor after meeting actor/director David Hayman.
His wife, actress Anne-Marie Duff, gave birth to a boy named Brendan in London (2010).
His fans refer to themselves as "McAvoyeurs".
Has a younger half-brother named Donald.
Has said he is "desperately allergic" to horses and suffered terribly while shooting scenes for 'The Conspirator'.
Nominated for the Olivier Awards as Best Actor for his performance in "Macbeth" (2013).
McAvoy and Duff were married at a celebrity-free ceremony at the 19th century Drumtochty Castle in Aberdeenshire. McAvoy didn't invite any co-stars 'because he didn't want the day to be about being famous'.
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 always believed that I never wanted to be an actor. I only did it because I was allowed to do it and I had to do something.
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.
[Talking about Andrew McCarthy and why he inspired him to be an actor] Yeah, St. Elmo's Fire (1985) is probably the one that I love him in the most. He was really vulnerable, really open, I think. And he had floppy hair, kind of bad hair, and I had really bad hair for quite a long time when I was a kid.
(2007) 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 luck 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, 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.
[on his role in Wanted (2008)] I got to satisfy the 16-year-old boy's yearning to break things and jump up and down and beat people up. It was a very physical film, and I had to get fit and go to the gym, which I don't really enjoy.
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. - When asked what an actor should never do.
The minute you start to strategize too much, the more you start to think you're in control of your own fate. And you're not, really.
Thank God X-Men: First Class (2011) is not in 3-D, which is just an excuse to charge an extra ten bucks at the theatre. Then, in the end, they're not 3-D at all. The idea of things coming out of the screen and making you jump out of your seat are done very well, but I think it's a waste of time and money and I wouldn't pay for a ticket to go to one of those films.
I was one of the lucky people that saw Black Swan (2010) thinking that it was just a movie about ballet dancing. And what an amazing surprise and treat to go, 'Oh right, so it's about ballet dancing; oh right, it's also about a messed-up ballet dancer; oh right, it's about a mental case ballet dancer; oh my God it's about an absolute nut job!'
I am a nerd, but I don't dive head-first into any fiefdom of nerdiness, except for maybe Star Trek.
[on dealing with the media] It's a difficult thing - you've got to talk about yourself but you've also got to try not to say anything about yourself. The more you give of yourself, the more there is to chase after.
[on his relationship with his wife] We keep our noses clean and keep our stuff private. We don't have affairs, we don't turn up to parties, we don't fall out of places drunk. We're not that interesting. I don't wear a dress where you can see my knickers when I'm getting out of a taxi. Do you know what I mean? I find all that weird.
[on working with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen] will be interesting when Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick and I are all working on 'X-Men'. We might have a Macbeth-off. I might just go, "My Macbeth's better than your Macbeth... And your Macbeth: hmm, not so sure."
My favourite kind of theatre is when I see the actors bleed and sweat blood and look like they're having heart attacks. You've got to try and dash yourself without breaking yourself too much.
[on playing Macbeth in the BBC's "ShakespeaRe-Told" (2005) series] I was very young. I think I was about 25 or 24. And that made me think, obviously this isn't Shakespeare's text but it's quite interesting having a young Macbeth because what you get is him and Lady Macbeth perceived to be throwing away their future, all through ambition. And it makes their loss all the sadder when he delivers the 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' speech, which is an expression of utter blackness and fatalism.
[on his role as Bruce Robertson in Filth (2013/I)] He's not somebody you want to be, he's not somebody you'd want to know... if you see somebody manipulate and corrupt and abuse and all these things then ultimately you want to see them get their comeuppance, and without giving too much away you probably get that in this as well.
I am a very shouty Macbeth. You know you've got the audience there and can do anything to make them feel uncomfortable. We do it on purpose.
[on_Welcome to the Punch (2013)_] Don't get me wrong. I love British cinema, but there's also a place for ostentatious, balls-out entertainment.
[on Filth (2013/I)] As an actor, you've got to try and make the audience like you, even if you're doing bad things. I quite like that dynamic, so I thought more about pushing it, about someone who does despicable things.
I don't want to be all worthy about it, but I don't do red carpets, I don't do events and I don't accept freebies that much.
[on his decision to become an actor] I was faced with the prospect of working in a bank for my work experience, and having heard about the experience from a mate of mine, who was a year above me and went to the same bank the year before, I was dreading it. It was sitting on your a*** licking stamps and doing that for six days solid, nine to five. Then going out and getting everybody's lunch. And I thought, 'I'd rather be doing that in an interesting environment,' so I thought, 'F*** it, I'll go and ask [director David Hayman for work experience].' I don't know what possessed me, really.
[on his role in "Macbeth"] When I kick a door and I run on the stage, it's easy from that moment, but right now I'm sitting here going, 'How am I gonna do this tonight?' I feel like that quite a lot. But I probably find it more difficult doing this Macbeth than any of the action movies I've ever done.
About the age of 15 or so I did consider it, and specifically not just any old priest, I considered being a missionary, 'cause I thought the whole great romantic idea of going off to far-flung regions, and helping people and trying to do all that was not only a good thing to do and romantic thing to do, but quite an adventurous thing to do. So I thought about that, but then I did start getting more luck with girls about that time, and that sort of put the kibosh on wedding myself to God. Girls and adventure, and then acting kind of came along right at that moment as well, and so I am so, so thankful, especially since I turned my back on God, he has not punished me, thank you very much.
[on his role in Macbeth] The whole idea is that the dialogue, the poetry, is the most violent, hellish, gory, war-torn of all of his plays - and my personal opinion is you can't come on stage and go [affects plummy accent] "Ah, so foul and fair a day I've never seen!" He's just killed like a thousand people with his bare hands, he can't be a nice guy.
I always have a beard between jobs. I just let it grow until they pay me to shave it. People are quite surprised it's ginger. Sometimes they ask me if dye my hair and I always say "Wow, no! I'm 'trans-ginger'."
[on his grandparents' views about his career] You know, they never told me, "You can be whatever that you want to be" because I think they felt - and I feel - that that's a lie, nobody can be whatever they want to be. No kid can do whatever they want to do. It's a total lie, but they have the right to try to do whatever they want to do. That's their right, to aim to do whatever they want to do. And you know what? Life might kick you in the face, life might not let you do what you want to do, but they always taught me that, you know, "Go for it! Yeah, you wanna do that? Go for it, son, you've gotta do it."
I don't know what I thought it was gonna be. Honest to God, I did a movie and a couple of little TV shows when I was 16, didn't do anything again, got into drama school. Then I started working pretty much immediately after drama school. I wasn't really aware of what was going on, and I still hadn't really decided that I was an actor. I hadn't sort of said to myself "Right, this is the rest of my life," because you can't, because they is still a big massive part of me saying, "What if the work dries up tomorrow? Then I'm not an actor any more," you know?
I love going to art galleries. The Tate Modern is one of my favourite things to do.
[on "Macbeth"] It's not got a Scottish voice. It's written for an English voice. But it is historically set in a place depicted by Shakespeare as brutal and violent, incredibly superstitious, and that's something that I do believe is Scottish.
[on his eyebrows] They're gonna be my f****** passport to playing wizards in my seventies.
[McAvoy's views on Danny Boyle, director of Trance (2013)] Danny has incredible energy. It's quite something to behold. He drinks a lot of coffee and he's about four feet taller when his hair's standing up. He's working on the Olympics Thursday and Friday and doing our film the rest of the time.
[on Anne-Marie Duff's performance in Terence Rattigan's "Cause Célèbre" at the Old Vic] I think doing plays is always knackering. But especially when you're playing a part as emotionally taxing and dexterous as Alma [Rattenbury] in that play. And Anne-Marie was rarely off stage. But one of the strengths of her work is that when she goes through something, she goes through it and she doesn't hold back. Danny [Danny Boyle] said something to me the other day - we pay to see actors cry and go through stuff. Not just dramatic feats of action and derring-do but stuff that we wouldn't let ourselves do. We rarely cry or kiss our partner or devote the time and attention it takes to understand some of the things we're going through. But we pay to see actors f***in' go through it. I think Anne-Marie's always done that, and she manages to do it without taking up too much emotional space. I don't know how she does it.
The hours you work are incredible. But beyond that as well, Anne-Marie [wife Anne-Marie Duff] and I both seem to get the kind of jobs where you put yourself through the wringer. X-Men [X-Men: First Class (2011)] wasn't really like that - that was quite nice and chilled out. I just got to float about saying lines that Professor X thought were slightly humorous. But generally the work we get is quite emotionally demanding.
[on basing his character Arthur in Arthur Christmas (2011) partly on Prince Harry] I think he's a more innocent Harry. I think I'd love Harry. He's a proper, man. He's like, "I'm never gonna be the king, it's cool."
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