James McAvoy Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (49)  | Personal Quotes (96)

Overview (3)

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Nicknames Jamesy Boy
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

McAvoy was born on 21 April 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland, to Elizabeth (née Johnstone), a nurse, and James McAvoy senior, a bus driver. He was raised on a housing estate in Drumchapel, Glasgow by his maternal grandparents (James, a butcher, and Mary), after his parents divorced when James was 11. 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, although 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 (RSAMD).

He took the place at the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and, when he graduated in 2000, he moved to London. He had 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 attention of the British public in 2004 playing car thief Steve McBride in the successful UK TV series Shameless (2004) and then to the rest of the world in 2005 as Mr Tumnus, the faun, in Disney's adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). In The Last King of Scotland (2006) McAvoy portrayed a Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician to dictator Idi Amin, played by Forest Whitaker. McAvoy's career breakthrough came in Atonement (2007), Joe Wright's 2007 adaption of Ian McEwan's novel.

Since then, McAvoy has taken on theatre roles, starring in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' (directed by Jamie Lloyd), which launched the first Trafalgar Transformed season in London's West End and earned him an Olivier award nomination for Best Actor. In January 2015, McAvoy returned to the Trafalgar Studios stage to play Jack Gurney, the delusional 14th Earl of Gurney who believes he is Jesus, in the first revival of Peter Barnes's satire 'The Ruling Class', a role for which he was subsequently awarded the London Evening Standard Theatre Award's Best Actor.

On screen, McAvoy has appeared as corrupt cop Bruce Robertson in Filth (2013), a part for which he received a Scottish BAFTA for Best Actor, a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor, a London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actor of the Year and an Empire Award for Best Actor. More recently, he reprised his role as Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). He began his depiction of Kevin Wendell Crumb, also known as The Horde, a man with an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder in M. Night Shyamalan's thriller Split (2016) and continued it in the sequel, Glass (2019). Also in 2019, he played Bill Denbrough in It Chapter Two (2019), the horror sequel to It (2017).

McAvoy and Jamie Lloyd look set to continue their collaboration in December 2019, with a production of 'Cyrano de Bergerac' at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End, London. The project has been on the cards as long ago as 2017, when McAvoy posted a picture of him reading the script and wearing a false nose.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mel G

Spouse (1)

Anne-Marie Duff (11 November 2006 - 2016) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Blue eyes
Wavy hair
Scottish accent

Trivia (49)

Trained at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).
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, also an actress who appeared as 'Estelle' alongside McAvoy in Filth (2013).
His parents divorced when he was seven.
As a child, he wanted to become a missionary because he wanted to travel the world.
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.
Joe Wright considered him for a role in his Pride & Prejudice (2005). Both director and actor refused to name the part.
Born to James McAvoy, a bus driver-turned-builder, and his then-wife Elizabeth (Johnstone), a psychiatric nurse.
Attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow. Also attended by Tom Mannion.
Enjoys science fiction, including Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) and the new Battlestar Galactica (2004).
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.
Is good friends with actors Tom Ellis and Benedict Cumberbatch.
His favorite director is Ken Loach.
Was inspired to become an actor after meeting actor/director David Hayman.
Among his favorite movies are The Goonies (1985), Back to the Future (1985), The Great Escape (1963), Brief Encounter (1945), Kes (1969) and My Name Is Joe (1998).
Became a father for the first time at the age of 30 when his wife (now his ex-wife) Anne-Marie Duff gave birth to their son Brendan McAvoy in February 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'.
Former member of Pace Youth Theatre. Other members included Barry Arthur McKay, Shauna MacDonald, Paolo Nutini, Martin Quinn and Gordon McCorkell.
Nominated for a Best Actor Olivier Award for his performance in "Macbeth" (2013).
McAvoy and Anne-Marie 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'.
At the London premiere of Danny Boyle's film Trance (2013) in March 2013, McAvoy apologised to reporter Sophie van Brugen when he accidentally spat on her during a red carpet interview.
Keeps an apartment in the centre of Glasgow for family visits.
Worked as a trained confectioner for two and a half or three years in order to fund drama school.
At McAvoy's request, he was punched in the face by a German actress during the making of Filth (2013).
Is close friends with X-Men co-star Michael Fassbender.
He has two roles in common with Patrick Stewart: (1) McAvoy played Macbeth in ShakespeaRe-Told: Macbeth (2005) while Stewart played him in Great Performances: Macbeth (2010) and (2) Stewart played Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and Logan (2017) while McAvoy played him in X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), Deadpool 2 (2018), and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). They also each share the role of Macbeth with their respective Magnetos, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender.
On 9 March 2015, McAvoy was nominated for a Best Actor Olivier award for his performance as Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney in "The Ruling Class" (2015). The award ceremony takes place at the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden on Sunday 12 April.
In April 2015 McAvoy pledged £125,000 to help fund a ten-year scholarship programme at his former drama school, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). The fund will help those aged 25 and under who would otherwise be unable to afford tuition at the school. Applicants will need to demonstrate that financial cost is the main barrier to their accessing pre-higher education drama training at the RCS.
[2016] Drives an Audi RS3.
His first car was a Citroen C3 Picasso.
Crashed a 1980s Porsche 911 on the set of Atomic Blonde (2017) when a stunt went wrong.
Passed his car driving test at the age of 30, although he had ridden a motorcycle for many years.
An addiction to Xbox while he was filming Becoming Jane (2007) made him forget his lines.
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.
In order to secure a career in Hollywood, McAvoy masked his Glaswegian accent, often convincing directors and producers that he was English. Even M. Night Shyamalan was fooled when he cast him in Split (2016); the director thought all along that he was English.
Of Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie.
Shared screen time with fellow Marvel hero Chris Pratt ( Peter Quill / Star Lord) in the film Wanted (2008).
Has worked with Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby trilogy, Dark Phoenix, IT Chapter 2. In an interview with Conan O'Brien in 2019 while promoting IT Chapter 2 James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain said they'd like to work together again and become a memorable cinema pairing.

Personal Quotes (96)

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.
I talk about this a lot when people ask me about my favorite films and things, and I try to be as honest as possible, but it is The Goonies (1985). I did watch The Goonies (1985) a lot.
[speaking in 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 (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.
[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.
[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.
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] It 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)] 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)] 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 I 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 there 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."
[on being asked to lose weight for his role as Bruce Robertson in Filth (2013)] I was like, "Aw, must I? Can't I just act it, darling?" [in his best Laurence Olivier accent].
I'm probably more dangerous in a car than I am on a motorbike; on a bike I'm very mindful of the fact that if you make a mistake you're dead.
If you can't empathise and imagine what it is like to be somebody from somewhere else your world becomes very small and you can only do one thing. I went in there [the RSAMD, now renamed the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland] being able to do 'angry young Glaswegian' and that was about it really. I came out being able to do a lot of the stuff that I've done.
[on his role in "Macbeth"] You're having a mental and physical breakdown throughout the course of the show every night. It is one of those parts, those plays, where the audience is willing you to dash yourself on the rocks, both artistically and actually a little bit. It's all very controlled and we're trying to make sure nothing like that would ever happen of course, but we have to go so far to make people feel like anything could happen, make it seem like we are on the verge of losing control. That's not only a hard line to ride, it's also an exhausting one. But I'm loving it, absolutely loving it.
[on Filth (2013)] Some people will just hate it, but there is going to be a lot of people who wouldn't expect to like it who will find it entertaining, interesting and emotionally powerful. It is not what you usually expect from me. It is not Trainspotting (1996). It is very Irvine Welsh but it has got its own voice.
At the beginning of my career I just set out to hopefully dupe people into giving me any kind of work, and that was a lot of character work. I was just happy to get anything and I'm lucky that I've not been pigeon-holed too much. I've started to plan things a bit more now, but until the last three or four years I never really planned anything.
What I do as an actor. I don't go, 'What's the truth of this scene, what should I be playing for the truth of this moment? I look at what I want the audience to feel, and I work back from that. I probably have the audience at the forefront of my mind for most movies, but particularly for Filth (2013), because half the fun of this film is in pulling the audience from pillar to post in terms of how much they can take.
[on playing disturbed detective Bruce Robertson in Filth (2013)] With this it's never black and white. You never quite know where the line is in terms of humour, in terms of your emotional connection to the character, in terms of right or wrong, in terms of your allegiance to him, in terms of your empathy and sympathy, in terms of your repulsion to him. And just as he's becoming vulnerable and drawing you in, he forces a fifteen year-old girl to give him a blowjob. So he's constantly moving the line in the sand. And you're constantly asking the audience to cross that line.
I don't have a middle name. If I had to take one, I'd like something Scottish like Hamish or Cameron.
When actors are lucky enough to get work their worry starts to become: 'will I get anything as good as that again?' I played Macbeth and I did Bruce [Robertson, in Filth (2013)] in the one year and it's made it quite difficult for me, as I don't know what to do after that. Maybe I need to deal with the fact that I will never get anything as interesting as that again. I don't even mean for the audience, I mean just for myself. Bruce came easier than any other part I've played, which is terrifying, because he is a demon, he is a proper son of Satan, although the truth he is just like any one of us who has gone horrendously bad. I actually loved him.
[on how fatherhood has changed him] I take fewer risks. I would love to do a skydive, because I like anything to do with heights. But that will have to wait for now. But I do still use my motorbike. After the birth of [his son] Brendan I was all set to sell it, but my wife insisted it was a part of my personality. However, I do drive on secure tracks - it's much safer than in normal traffic.
[on playing a leading role] When you're playing the lead, you're not just playing the character with the most lines. You're partly leading the company, helping to set the tone and the example of the work ethic. You are colouring the production with every choice you make, and you've got to do that on purpose, and not be so precious and gentle with it.
[on being placed in a school rock band] I was a nice enough boy that needed something to do. Suddenly, I was around people who weren't afraid of being slightly different or called names, or singing a song, or playing in a band. I could suddenly stop being afraid to be different, or to aim for something, or to ask for something, or of being bullied. I could step outside the safety circle of being like everybody f*****g else.
If you'd have told me about my career as a wee boy, I'd have been really f*****g surprised. I wouldn't have believed you. I didn't even think about acting until I was acting.
My grandparents were always very strict with me, my mother, too. I know it may sound as if things were quite difficult, unstable or whatever, but in fact they weren't at all. I was very happy as a child, even though I was never let out of the door on my own until I was 16. In a way I think that stopped me from getting into mischief, but I don't think I was ever that mischievous anyway.
I take my job very seriously and if I start acting like an idiot off screen, I lose that respect.
[on his biggest fashion mistake] Going through a waistcoat phase while I was at secondary school. It was a brave move in my neighbourhood. I've only done it once on the red carpet. Never again.
[on winning a BAFTA for Best Actor for his role in The Last King of Scotland (2006)] It was an incredibly important thing for me, and it's remained something that I'm really fond of; I think it might have been one of the first awards I ever won and it was a real moment of feeling like acceptance anyway from your peers and from the people that are in the industry with you.
I'm always on the hunt for something new, a character I have never played before. Thanks to X-Men I have a certain amount of financial freedom. When I know I'll be making another blockbuster in a couple of years' time, I can afford to say yes to smaller projects with smaller budgets.
[on Scottish independence] I don't mind staying together, and I don't mind splitting up, but I don't really like either of the parties who've made arguments. I don't trust politicians at the moment. Why suddenly believe them now? Whether it turns out bad or good, you can make the best of independence. But pursuing it with a goal to be richer is f*****g pointless. We could be [rich] for four years, but then we might not be. That's what happens. If you look at Ireland, people were willing to fight and die for their f*****g independence 100 years ago. Ask any Scotsman who wants independence whether they want to shed blood for it. I don't think they'd say yes.
You can't control your career as an actor. If you could strategise your way to the top, then everybody would be successful and playing the leads in movies where they're commanding millions of dollars. And they're not. You can't. There are better actors than me who are struggling, and there are worse actors than me who are coining it in. Luckily for me, the work has just kept coming. If a director doesn't want me, that's their f*****g loss.
[on portraying a downtrodden character in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)] It was simple - when I went out drinking with friends, I just didn't come home early and ordered another couple of beers instead. That made the make-up artists' jobs very nice and easy the next day.
I really am thrifty. When it comes to the people I love, I'm generous, but I don't need much. I spend money on groceries and pay my bills. Every now and again I'll allow myself a chocolate bar. I'm joking but seriously, I'm careful with my money. I learnt that from my grandparents. That was always very important to me, not to be in debt to anyone, money-wise. I was determined not to take any money off my mother or my grandparents after I was 18.
[on The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)] When I received the script, I'd just become a father. I didn't want to be in a film that featured a couple dealing with the death of their child. It took two years after the birth of Brendan for me to be at enough of a distance to take on the story.
["Macbeth"] gets called 'the Scottish Play', but it's not about Scotland - it's about a f*****g mental case. For me, it's about a guy with huge trauma: firstly post-traumatic stress disorder, but also the trauma of not being able to have a child. I've been doing a lot of that sort of stuff lately. My roles over the last couple of years have mostly been about mental people losing their families or [going through] huge traumas and suffering mentally for it: Trance [Trance (2013)], Filth, [Filth (2013)], Eleanor Rigby [The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)] - even f*****g Frankenstein is about the loss of a child, and more mentalness, and playing God with people's lives.
[on The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)] So when I came back into it, I came for the first day of rehearsals and I swear to you, I did not know we were doing two films. Because when they asked me to do it, they needed a quick answer because they were going to lose financing. So I got the script from my old original email from two years previously and just read that and said 'I'm up for it!' I think my agent or somebody mentioned there were two films, and it was just one of those things that didn't quite compute. I was just like, 'What the f**k is she on? Eh, nevermind.' And it was the first day of rehearsals and I was sitting there and my script was incredibly thick. And I was like 'Holy f*****g shit!' I don't think I admitted that to the director for two weeks, actually. And Jess [Jessica Chastain] only found out today.
[on scenes that were cut from Filth (2013)] There's a lot of harsh, harsh stuff in there that never made it into the film, but again, not because we were worried about hurting anybody, but just that we were worried we were getting too in love with the groove of it rather than concentrating on the story of it. It's a fairly hard story to grasp onto anyway. You think it's about a murder case but actually it's about his chase for a promotion, then hopefully you realise what's holding the film together is his deteriorating mental state. You finally, around 50 minutes in, get the true revelation of what you are really watching. You are watching this man's mind explode. So entertaining superfluous stuff just had to go.
[on one of the deleted scenes in Filth (2013)] So we got money from Belgium and thought, 'Right, dogs***king scene - that's happening in Belgium'. It was a strange day, getting humped by a dog. It wasn't just the dog, it was also the camera and the boom. There were a lot of different things humping my leg at different times of the day. My favourite bit of that scene is when I get it in my mouth by accident. That's one of my favourite bits of the movie, and it's not even in the movie.
I've not had a fried Mars Bar since I was about 21, but they're good, man.
[while playing Bruce Robertson in Filth (2013)] I've got a dark and filthy sense of humour, but it got a lot darker and filthier. And I swore. I usually swear a lot, but I swore a great deal more when making the film and my wife kept telling me to watch my mouth and not to swear around the kid.
I've made biscuits, cookies, cupcakes and stuff like that for my kid recently, but other than that I can't really bake bread or anything.
Earlier in my career, I used to look at other actors and maybe steal a move here or there, but as I have gotten older, I prefer releasing the idiosyncratic quality that every single person has. That is truly interesting. In the pursuit of pretending and making things seem real, what is really interesting is watching somebody on camera or on stage releasing things that only they could. That is really beautiful.
I don't know why, but I have the most fun playing the most f****d up people. Connor [in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)], Macbeth, and the guy from 'Filth', Bruce Robertson [Filth (2013)]. Those people have been the most fun I've had recently in terms of playing characters, and yet they are going through the most harrowing and f****d up and disgusting things at times. So it's very strange. I don't know what that is. I play people who are suffering and I will be having a great old time. Maybe to improve my own personal happiness [laughs].
Maybe there is lightness in Scottish characters, but I'm not interested in finding it. I'm really happy with what I've portrayed of Scotland so far, even if it is dark and demonic.
My last day on the film [Filth (2013)] was on the "Reeperbahn", at midnight, face-down, on the concrete with extras and real people and real prostitutes walking past me and not giving me much attention. Whew. I was thinking: "This shoot better end f*****g soon." There I was, lying on the ground, in the middle of the "Reeperbahn", basically chewing mud because I have been just slapped hard in the face by an actress - who has been reported to be a real prostitute, though that's not true, she is an actress - and thinking: "This film is gonna kill me. And if it doesn't, the Reeperbahn will." My experience of Hamburg was dark. It was also the end of the shoot and I was really done. I loved playing Bruce [Robertson] and I'm sad that I'll never play him again, but at that moment I was glad that it was the end.
I am very grateful for the awards that I have won, but I have never gone into my study, looked at my awards and thought: "Oh, I am a good actor!" Somebody says "Well done!" to you, you think "Great!" and forget it immediately. Somebody gives you an award, it's great because you can find another great job and maybe win another one, but it doesn't stay with me.
My carefree attitude disappeared when my son was born four years ago. But that's a good thing! I don't want to be as carefree as I used to be. Sometimes it's important that certain things keep you up at night. It's just a shame that you become more cautious and pragmatic with age. I never used to feel restricted by boundaries; anything was possible. And as you get older a fear creeps in that says, life isn't forever.
[on whether his celebrity status makes it harder for him to be faithful] I have a wife, so I'm monogamous. And my heart also belongs to my son and my grandparents. When it comes to my friends, I'm no longer quite as generous with my love. That's to do with age. I realised that my energy does have boundaries.
Nobody has got anything against an actor who is posh and is doing really well. But we are real worried about a society that doesn't give opportunities to everybody from every walk of life to be able to get into the arts, and that is happening. That doesn't affect us right now, but it will affect us five years from now, ten years from now, certainly further down the line. That's a frightening world to live in because as soon as you get one tiny pocket of society creating all the arts, or culture starts to become representative not of everybody, but of one tiny part, and that's not fair to begin with, but it's also damaging for society.
I don't think it matters where actors come from and I don't care if all the actors come from posh private schools. But I do care about a government that doesn't prioritise arts in education. It is one of the first things that if you take it away, it's a signal that the government doesn't care about upward mobility any more. Art is one the first things you take away from society if you want to keep them down.
I think theatre is a sacrificial process. I think the first piece of theatre was when they sacrificed a lamb or a person in front of other people and that's sort of the route of theatre. Like the route of fine art is cave drawings and the route of novels and great literature is the first scribblings of writing or whatever... but the route of theatre is, I think, human sacrifice. So every time you go on stage you've got to feel like people are giving something up and leaving something on stage of themselves and this felt like this would give us the opportunity to do that.
[on his play "The Ruling Class"] No matter how light it is, it's anger running through it. And it seeps into you. It gets really into your bones, actually. So it is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's also the hardest thing I've ever done simply because I've got to do singing, dancing, unicycling, playing the flute, sword fighting, crucifixions, backflips and fighting monsters and fighting puppets... so all that stuff's really hard. But that's why I wanted to do it - because it was hard. Because I felt some of the other stuff I'd been doing was nice chamber pieces that weren't actually what theatre is.
I would say to any young person who is thinking about applying to a youth theatre or any of the courses at RCS [Royal Conservatoire of Scotland], go for it, do it, don't be worried about what people are going to say. I came from a place where nobody had done anything like that and it worked out pretty good and nobody beat me up for it, even though I thought they would! So, go for it, do it. It will open your mind, it's not about being an actor, it's about having an experience that is magical, that transcends our boundaries and the things that keep us down.
Drama teaches you to empathise and that stands you in good stead - whether you are going to be an actor, a director or a plumber - it improves your ability to connect with the world around you.
[on mobile/cell phones] I feel like I'm one of those people who's part of the last generation that got to be a full-blown adult and not have a mobile phone. It's so weird how different the world was to be an adult without a phone. It's crazy. And to be like, 'Hey I'll see you Thursday at half past five at that place,' and you would have to turn up. There was never anything of kind of going like, 'Hey are you still up for tonight?' or 'Yeah, um, this thing came up.' You were just there, and if you weren't there, you kind of lost a friend. There was no likes or dislikes or unfriending people; you just kind of showed up or called.
[on the paranormal] I want to believe. I try to believe. It's hard - I'm a lapsed believer. My granddad took me to the Glasgow City Chambers once - sort of like city hall. I was just standing in these massive, vast halls, and there was these huge portraits of old leaders of our nation - I don't know, probably not that important, but important enough to be in there - and I remember crossing over a roped line. And I touched [a painting] - and I've tried this many times since - and the whole room spun. I was very young, and maybe I had low blood sugar or something, but I touched the painting and it was so canvas-y and textured, it felt like it was a 3D thing. The whole room spun, and I thought the man was holding my hand. But it's never happened to me ever again, but I have tried to make it happen a few times. Like I said though, it was probably low blood sugar. I was a malnourished lad. We survived on sausage and fizzy drinks.
[on how his bald head has boosted his career] I was in San Diego, at Comic Con, and I got f***ing blind drunk and stumbled into M. Night Shyamalan and he was like, 'Heeeeey! I've never seen you like this before.' And he gave me a part in his next movie. And the next director I met was like, 'I really like you bald. I'm going to give you this part!' It seems that everyone likes me bald right now.
When you don't have any money and can't physically explore the world and see other people's points of view, art is a really good substitute for that. And if you take art away from people when you're educating them, it's a really good way to churn out a lot of people that are going to pay their taxes, stay where they are, and make society very easy to control.
I don't really care where the actors come from, but I feel that when all the actors start to be posh it's a symptom and a signal of something more important and more worrying going on in society.
[on trying on different roles, depending on the circumstances] We all do it. We take on different roles in different friendship groups and social scenarios. In the playground we take on a persona and in the classroom we take on a persona.
[on his role in "Macbeth"] The poetic, dramatic imagery, it f***ing gets in, and so much of it is about approaching the gates of hell and ripping people apart with your hands. That was pretty barbaric and brutal, and it made me not pleasant.
From the age of seven or eight, I was quite sensitised to my ability to be fairly manipulative. Not saying I was a f***ing infant Machiavelli, but I was interested in playing people, and that was something I did to my benefit, at times.
[When asked about his best Scottish insult] Well it's not particularly Scottish, but the best insult I've ever heard in Scotland was directed at me when I was 16 on my first acting job. On my way to set, a wee boy in Drumchapel shouted at me: 'You're a f****** whippet's hard-on.' So, 'You're a whippet's hard-on.' A whippet, for those of you who don't know dogs, is like a greyhound. So you're like a greyhound, or a whippet's, hard, erect phallus.
We might do another [X-Men] because the last one made money, or something.
I quit smoking every day.
[on meeting David Hayman at secondary school] I hadn't done any acting and there was no drama club or drama school, or anything like that at my school, and my English teacher's next-door neighbour was an actor and director called David Hayman who had done lots of amazing theatre, TV, film work, and also directed a few things as well. He was making a film about some pretty dark stuff up in Glasgow and he came in, gave us all a chat on 'Macbeth', which we were reading in class - which I would later go on and do - and I just said 'Thanks very much for coming and if you ever need somebody to come and make tea for you while you're making a film, I need to do work experience for one week of the year... could you please remember me and I'll come and do it for you?' And then, six months later, he's making this really dark film about the underside of the Scottish pornography scene and he phoned the school and said 'Is that kid still there? Does he want to come and have an audition?' And I went and auditioned. And it's the only audition that I've ever done where, as I'm in the room he said 'Well, I think we've found our guy' and I was like 'Wow!' I then went on to be pretty ropey in the film for him, but... there you go.
[on It (2017)] It was the highest grossing horror film of all time. I read the book when I was about 13 or 14, and loved it. I fell in love with the idea of the Losers' Club and that wee gang of really cool but very not loved, uncool, outsider-type kids, and I know I felt like that until I found my group, my people that made me feel like it was all right to be different, you know? And I really wanted to be a part of that.
[on It Chapter Two (2019)] I don't mind a horror movie but, this one, it's almost like a test of your ability to take it. Don't get me wrong, I think this film's hilarious... it is by turns hilarious, it is heart-felt, it's moving, it's deeply romantic. The first one (It (2017)) was almost like The Goonies (1985) or Stand by Me (1986) mixed in with Alien (1979), and this one is that as well but the horror is so brutal, and it is... it is so prolonged at times that... the people that I went to see it with, my family and my friends, we were like... and I could feel them like going,'I might be leaving at any minute.' [When interviewer confirms it's a 15 certificate] Is it a 15? It is a 15?! I do some horrendous stuff in this film! Wow!
[on remembering his first day at school] I remember going, and I remember crying and I remember walking away from my mum, and I remember eating sweets off the floor - off the ground in the playground. They were everywhere. There was like manky ones and I was like 'I'll have that, that's sugar'!

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