- James Andrew McAvoy
April 21, 1979 (age 42)
- Anne-Marie Duff
- Elizabeth Johnstone, James McAvoy, Sr.
James McAvoy (born 21 April 1979) is a Scottish actor. He made his acting début as a teen in 1995's The Near Room and continued to make mostly television appearances until 2003, when his feature film career began and he continued to work in both areas from then on. His notable television work includes the drama show State of Play, the adult comedy-drama Shameless, and the science fiction show Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. Besides screen acting, McAvoy has performed in several West End productions, receiving three nominations for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. He has also done voice work for animated films including Gnomeo & Juliet and Arthur Christmas (both 2011).
In 2003, McAvoy appeared in a lead role in Bollywood Queen, a British Indian take on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, directed by Jeremy Wooding. This was followed by a supporting role, the faun Mr. Tumnus, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). His performance in Kevin Macdonald's drama The Last King of Scotland (2006) garnered him several award nominations. The critically acclaimed romantic drama war film Atonement (2007) earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and his second BAFTA nomination. He appeared opposite Angelina Jolie as a newly trained assassin in the action thriller Wanted (2008).
Since then, he is notable for playing the young Professor Charles Xavier in the 2011 superhero film X-Men: First Class, a role he reprises in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). McAvoy starred in the 2013 crime comedy-drama film Filth for which he won Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards.
Early life and family
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, which McAvoy took hard. McAvoy's mother suffered from poor health and subsequently decided it was best that he live with his maternal grandparents, Mary and butcher James Johnstone. His mother lived with them intermittently. The actor has regularly visited his grandparents. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow, a Catholic school, and briefly considered joining the Catholic priesthood. In a 2006 interview, McAvoy admitted that part of the reason why he considered becoming a priest was that he wanted to use it as an excuse to travel. 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 television 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.
McAvoy rounded out 2004 by appearing in the first two seasons of Shameless as Steve McBride, the moral hero of the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 program, giving the actor a big break in his career. His public profile was raised in 2005 with the release of Walt Disney Pictures's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. At the UK box office, this movie opened at number one, earning around £8.7 million at 498 cinemas over the weekend. Worldwide, Narnia grossed £463 million, making it the 41st highest-grossing film of all-time worldwide.
One of the biggest highlights of McAvoy's career was starring opposite Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in Wanted, an action movie where he portrayed Wesley Gibson, a young 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 part in late 2006 since the studio "wanted someone geeky". At the box office, Wanted was a success, grossing £207 million against a £45 million production budget.
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, a young 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". While shooting action scenes for Wanted, he suffered several injuries, including a twisted ankle and an injured knee. Nonetheless the actor said he had a "good time" doing the movie. McAvoy had never done this type of genre before and thought of Wanted as a chance to be more versatile. Loosely based on the comic book miniseries of the same name by Mark Millar, it saw a June 2008 release worldwide. It received favourable reviews from the press, who generally liked that it was fast-paced. At the box office, Wanted was a success, grossing $341 million against a $75 million production budget.
While working on Shameless, McAvoy started a relationship with his character's love interest, Anne-Marie Duff. When they first began dating, McAvoy and Duff agreed not to speak to the press about their relationship. He married Duff on 18 October 2006 in a quiet ceremony. When asked by Ryan Seacrest, during his radio show, if he wished he had waited longer to get married so he could exploit his fame better, McAvoy replied that he had married the woman of his dreams. "The world seemed less scary.... And I started to like myself a little bit more."
They have one child together, a son named Brendan (b. 2010). In interviews, the actor has opted not to discuss his son and have not announced their child's birth date, although he has stated "the little man" keeps him up at night.
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. He enjoys fantasy themes which he said started from the age of 11 with The Lord of the Rings. His 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. McAvoy considers himself a spiritual person who no longer practices Catholicism. 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 patronising 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 effect to get more money out of their theatre audiences. McAvoy has stated that The Goonies (1985) is his favourite film.