Spotlight: James McAvoy
McAvoy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Elizabeth (née Johnstone), a psychiatric nurse, and James McAvoy, a builder. McAvoy’s parents divorced when he was seven, and he subsequently lived with his maternal grandparents, Mary and James Johnstone in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow. His mother lived with them intermittently but McAvoy has not been in contact with his father since childhood. McAvoy attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow, a Catholic school, and briefly considered joining the priesthood. He was in the Pace Youth Theatre for over six years, trained by Mhari Gilbert, and graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000. His sister, Joy McAvoy, is a singer.
McAvoy’s first roles were in David Hayman’s The Near Room in 1995 and then as Anthony Balfour in Pat Barker’s Regeneration in 1997. McAvoy got his first big international break with a role in the Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries Band of Brothers. His first international starring role was as Leto Atreides II in the 2003 Sci Fi Channel miniseries Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune (adapted from Frank Herbert’s novels). The same year he also appeared in several episodes of the BBC sitcom Early Doors and co-starred in Paul Abbott’s acclaimed thriller serial State of Play. In 2004 he starred as Steve McBride in another Abbott-written drama series, Shameless on Channel 4, for which he was nominated for the British Comedy Award for Best TV Newcomer. He also appeared in Wimbledon as Paul Bettany’s obnoxious brother, Carl Colt. In 2005, he played Ben in the Royal Court Theatre’s production Breathing Corpses, He also played Macbeth in the four-part BBC production Shakespeare Retold. In 2005 he also played Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, in The Chronicles of Narnia.
In 2006, McAvoy starred alongside Forest Whitaker as Dr. Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland. The film is an adaptation of Giles Foden’s novel of the same name and gives a fictionalized account of the regime of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin during the 1970’s, as seen by his (fictional) personal physician and advisor. The character of Garrigan is a composite of several men who were close to Amin, most notably Englishman Bob Astles, who was a top advisor to Amin during his regime and became known in Uganda as “The White Rat.” In a none-too-subtle parallel in the film, Dr. Garrigan is referred to as Amin’s “White Monkey.”
McAvoy also took the lead role in 2006’s Starter for Ten. The film follows the exploits of the nerdy Brian Jackson as he navigates his first year at Bristol University during the mid-1980’s. Starter for Ten was adapted from the novel of the same name by David Nicholls. McAvoy won the new Mary Selway/Orange Rising Star Award at the 2006 BAFTA Awards. He also completed filming of Penelope in 2006, co-starring Christina Ricci, but due to distribution problems the film was not put in wide release until 2008.
In 2007 McAvoy appeared in two critically acclaimed films — Becoming Jane and Atonement, the latter of which is based on Ian McEwan’s award-winning 2001 novel. McAvoy was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Atonement. He also workshopped scenes for the movie Three Way Split for directors Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger, but will not take part in the actual film.
McAvoy has a new film set to be released on 27 June, 2008 called Wanted, loosely based on the comic book miniseries by the same name. McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, a twenty-five year old employee who works in a cubicle. He is offered the opportunity to avenge the death of his father, who was an assassin. He is then trained by his father’s partner, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), and by Sloan’s second-in-command, Fox, played by Angelina Jolie.
He appears in the forthcoming films The Last Station, based on the 1990 novel by Jay Parini about the final year of Leo Tolstoy’s life, and Perrier’s Bounty, a comedy/thriller set in Dublin. Both movies will also star his wife, Anne-Marie Duff. Also McAvoy has been rumoured to be high on the list to take over the role of Spiderman from Tobey Maguire in the fourth installment. [wiki]
The Last Station (2008) (filming)
Becoming Jane (2007)
Starter for 10 (2006)
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)