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James McAvoy

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James McAvoy

James McAvoy

James McAvoy portrayed Charles Xavier/Professor X in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past and will reprise the role in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Significant roles

  • Sergeant Bloxham in Lorna Doone (2000)
  • Simon Balcairn in Bright Young Things (2003)
  • Liam in Early Doors (2003)
  • Dan Foster in State of Play (2003)
  • Carl Colt in Wimbledon (2004)
  • Rory O'Shea in Inside I'm Dancing (2004)
  • Steve McBride in Shameless (2004-2005)
  • Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • Dr. Nicholas Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland (2006)
  • Johnny/Max in Penelope (2006)
  • Brian Jackson in Starter for 10 (2006)
  • Tom Lefroy in Becoming Jane (2007)
  • Robbie Turner in Atonement (2007)
  • Wesley Gibson in Wanted (2008)
  • Valentin Buglakov in The Last Station (2009)
  • Frederik Aiken in The Conspirator (2010)
  • Gnomeo in Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)
  • Wesley Gibson in Wanted 2 (2011)


  • "I'm basically going to try and bury Patrick's performance," "I think the fun about these films, when you go back and you either reboot or do a prequel, is you get to see how people became who they are," he explained. "That means that you have to do them differently and by the end of the movie you have to do them the same way. The interesting journey is what happens to them, what changes them, what makes them evolve — not just mutate, but emotionally and psychologically evolve."
  • "I would suggest by the end of the movie and the start of the next movie, it'll be more like what Patrick does," "Or maybe not. Maybe it will still be in a period of flux, if there is a new movie."
  • "I think there's a lot of room there for a real connection," McAvoy told us of his hopes for the relationship between the two "First Class" protagonists. "By the end of that relationship, there's still a kind of affection for each other. You see that in the stuff that Patrick and [Sir Ian McKellen] did together. There's a lot of love there, strangely, I think."
  • "I think the fun about these films, when you go back and you either reboot or do a prequel, is you get to see how people became who they are," "That means that you have to do them differently and by the end of the movie you have to do them the same way. The interesting journey is what happens to them, what changes them, what makes them evolve — not just mutate, but emotionally and psychologically evolve."
  • "He’s not too combat savvy in this film, it has to be said. He doesn’t do too much, he’s sort of a consultant with the combat guys. But he does get involved in a few little bits of fisticuffs, I wouldn’t say that he comes out well in any of them, but I wouldn’t say that he gets his ass kicked either. Yeah he’s not particularly combat ready."
  • "You’ll have to wait and see, you’ll have to wait and see. It’s actually quite satisfying when you get to say that: ‘I’m not allowed to say.’ Because nobody’s actually told you that you’re not allowed to say, but it’s sort of implied."
  • "I’ll tell you what I did take – I looked at all of the things that he did the hardest. I looked at all of the things that came out the strongest in his performance and we said we have to go the opposite way. Simply to validate why we were making this film, because if they were just the same there would be no reason to make it, we have to show how different he is. We have to show a journey – so he clearly has to start in a different place. So the main things that we looked into are the fact that he is ego-less, selfless, a very good person, he’s sexless – he’s sort of like a monk. We thought of what the opposite of all of those things would be – so now he drinks a lot, chases women quite a lot, and doesn’t mind sort of abusing his power to get ahead. He’s definitely got an ego, and he’s definitely a little bit selfish. So that’s where we start with him, and so he’s now got to grow towards –Sir Patrick."
  • I don’t think I’ve ever made such a big movie, in such a short period of time. It’s nuts, really. But, we’re getting it done. No movie has ever got enough time. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got, and it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve not got. You never finish on time. You’re always up against it and you’re always working up until the end. To get three days off the schedule to come and do [press for Gnomeo & Juliet] is a nice break ‘cause it is just [non-stop], all the time. But then, that’s what it is with every single movie I’ve ever been on. It just feels like the usual. It’s more about whether they can get it ready in time for the release date. They’re working on the editing now, and they’re working on the special effects now. They’ve got a big department working 24/7 on it."
  • "It’s pretty much what I thought it would be when (director) Matthew [Vaughn] took me through it all. He really wanted to play off the ‘60s setting of it, and play off the style of that, visually, in the design of the costumes and all that, which we totally got. And, he wanted us to be really free, in terms of characterization, and was confident in taking it as far away from the original characters, not as we could, but as we thought was right. We’ve really done that quite a lot. Otherwise, there’s no point in doing a prequel, if they’re just the exact same people. They’ve got to be very different, otherwise there is no journey. This story is all about that journey to showing the seeds of how they are in the other X-Men movies, and to show what could have been between Erik and Charles – or Professor X and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) – and to show why it couldn’t be."
  • "The toughest part is probably that I’ve got a great superpower and, if you had it in real life, it would be amazing, but in a movie, everybody else is bouncing off the walls and shooting [frick]ing beams of light out of their chest and doing crazy stuff and making things fly around, and I’m [putting my finger to my forehead]. It just feels a little bit like, “Oh, god!” But, what’s nice is that it means I have less CGI and stunt work to do, which means I have more time in my bed. That’s the thing. I look at all the other people using their superpowers and I’m like, “That would have been fun!"
  • "The best part about it, for me so far, is that I really love the cast. The cast has just been incredible. We’ve had a lot of fun, actually. I’ve loved working with [Michael] Fassbender. I think he’s great. I’m so glad that we got to collaborate on something. But, just from top to bottom, the cast is amazing. Having Kevin Bacon play your baddie is great. It’s a great, slightly left-field piece of casting as well. I don’t think anybody expected that. Hopefully, that’s a clue as to what the movie will be."
  • "Yeah, I think I’ll be doing something a little smaller, but I don’t know what that will be yet. It won’t be for a little while. I’m going to take a little bit of time. I might do some theater, or something like that. There are a couple of movies in the pipeline for the second half of the next year, but not solidified yet, so I can’t really say what. There are plans, but nothing I’m willing to say yes to just yet."
  • "He's at a much younger stage in his life, so he's clearly going to be a very different man."
  • "Fun and money. Those are two very valid reasons I'd say. Also, I was a fan of the cartoon when I was a kid, and a fan of the original X-Men movies."
  • "The first and second were fantastic, so it was a really good opportunity and, I'm also a fan of Patrick Stewart from Star Trek and everything else, so to get to play the young version of him in X-Men was quite exciting as well, I have to say."
  • "But also, to have the opportunity to redefine it, and change everything and change the character and make him a very different person was great."
  • "It's like any big ridiculous super-budget movie. Anything that size can make you feel like you're going mad, so you have to try to remember that when you watch those films in the cinema, it's an escapist experience."
  • "We haven't quite figured that one out yet. Maybe he gets really f**king psychotic and goes on a 'Taxi Driver' rampage. But there's so much interesting s**t that has to go down to make him who he becomes. Something f**king incredible has to happen!He can't just go to the hairdresser and they put on a dodgy rinse."
  • "I have no idea," "I really had to sit on Patrick Stewart's lap [for that image]. The only thing they photoshopped was to make him all dark."
  • "Erik’s is such a good power, but at the same time I’m not that impressed with a man that can bend metal. It doesn’t speak to me of drama. I’d love, love, love anything that was to do with flying. There’s not much else you can wish for in life if you can pop down to the shops and not get stopped by the traffic. And I’d quite like to be able to heal people as well, like Elixir. We nearly had Elixir in this film, but ultimately we chose not to. I think it made everything quite hard to have real drama and sense of impending fatality if somebody could just heal people."
  • "If I do another shoot like this one, I might have none left. Hopefully at some point in the second movie he'll not only lose his hair but explain why as well. In the comic books it's clear that he loses it the day he discovers his powers, but they decided not to do that in this one for some reason. It's a different take. We might as well save it for an in-movie explanation. Maybe something else happens to him. For the second movie, I'm quite interested in the idea that he can't keep the voices out so maybe something f***s him up. Maybe something happens to him on a genetic level that screws with him or something."
  • "I did a little bit but he's so different in the comic books. He's American in the comics and they made the bold decision to change that in the original movie and make Patrick Stewart British. So immediately you've got an entirely different character and mentality. He's played as an English gentleman, not just as a British guy with an accent. He's an English gent with a massive manor house - in America, but he's living that country gent lifestyle. So they've totally changed him from this American who happens to share a resemblance to Patrick Stewart in the comic books. It was quite difficult to go back to the comics and find all that. Also, he's much younger in this film. He's not even a professor when we meet him, he's a doctor. He's got a PhD and a doctorate but he gets his professorship quite early on in the film."
  • "It's not like getting a new Batman in and suddenly changing it all for artistic reasons. It's not that. It's a prequel. It has to tie in with the other movies. Not necessarily the comic books because the original movies never tied in with the comic books really anyway. But if we're lucky enough to make enough money and make two more movies, then by the end of that movie you want to lead them to where they are at the beginning of the first movie of the previous lot. You want to start in a very, very different place. You want to have them so far away from who they are in the other movies that it's inconceivable that they could get there. So then great, massive, epic things need to happen to them in order to change them."
  • "It would be nice to explore things in two more films. In this one, Magneto has gone through his major metamorphosis; he kind of found himself. Charles is dealing with his new life and [issues that present themselves] in this movie. And we still are left with the big question: How does he lose his hair? In the comic books there’s a very clear and easy answer, but we didn’t go with that. In the comics it happened when he was very young and when his powers activated. We’ve obviously gone away from that. Now, obviously, we can’t start the next movie with him bald. Not only is that easy and cheap, we’d be passing up an opportunity for a cool story point. I don’t know what it is — we need to come up with something that justifies doing it. Maybe he got some dodgy Australian shampoo..."
  • "I keep hearing bits and bobs from the different founts that there are or the different mouths that there are on this job. All I know is that if this one makes some money, they will definitely want to make another one. We’ve had pretty strong critical reaction thus far. I don’t know if they’d make it just on the back of that, if they didn’t make the kind of money they hope for. I don’t know, but I can’t see them making it just on that. I just hope that, if it happens, they make it because they found a story they like rather than making it just because there’s more money to be made. I’ve been lucky that, even though I’ve done a couple of bad or silly movies in the past, that’s the way they ended up; the studios made them because they were passionate about them. I’d hate to be in something that started right off as something cynical."
  • "The next movie, if there is one, shouldn’t just start off with them being pals again, but I think it also shouldn’t be like the first movies only set in the 1960s. If we get another, let’s not just make Magneto the bad guy; of course he’s a bad-ass and of course he has a whole different ethos, but making a movie that is black-and-white is going to lose the thing that we have in this one…. In the comics, Magneto goes back and forth, there are times when they are friends, there are times when he’s running the school. In the first Fox movie, if you want to be a fanboy about it, Patrick Stewart says … that ‘Erik Lehnsherr helped me build Cerebro,’ which is like Professor X’s Death Star. And it is like the Death Star in the other movies, it’s forever being built or being destroyed."
  • "I've spoken to Matthew about ideas, but I can't tell you what they are because they may or may not be the story. One thing I liked about our one was that it was different from the other three films where the X-Men are the good guys, Wolverine's figuring out who he is and Magneto is the bad guy. This was a completely different thing. Magneto wasn't a bad guy, we were friends. We're now set up to go back to the way the other movies are, so we've got to try to be cleverer than that."
  • "Xavier can't just become the guy that we saw in the first three movies. He just had two major things happen to him. He's lost his best friend, essentially, and he's just been paralyzed from the waist down. Which is just a huge, huge blow to his considerable ego. So he's got to deal with that... You've got to deal with that, I don't care if he's a superhero and has brain powers or not, he's just had a huge part of his physical life taken away from him, by someone he cares about more than anyone else. So he's got to deal with that."
  • "God knows. Hopefully more of that same in that we don't stick to the same sort of routine. You know? I think what was good about the first X-Men: First Class movie is that we messed with the dynamic that you usually get with X-Men movies. I think we need to keep doing that. We can't just fall into stride with the other stuff. So, maybe, hopefully more of that I think."
  • "We [McAvoy and Fassbender] had sex every morning and that helped make the chemistry. We just got on. We're friendly guys. We get each other and we agreed on a lot of stuff. We helped spar off each other every morning and come up with ideas. It's just fun to work with somebody who is as talented as him. Also, when you've got two generous actors as well, we're not trying to be selfish or steal scenes off each other. It was good."
  • "No idea. [on when a sequel will be filmed]"
  • "I thought the biggest thing that X-Men: First Class gave the franchise was a real palpable sense of humor that wasn’t just for a couple of moments. It was running through the thing. And I hope that continues. I don’t know how easy it will be for me to be a part of that as my character’s going to be in a pretty [frick]ed up place. It’s a shame because I like the fact that Charles Xavier was witty and funny and a bit of a lecherous old guy trapped in a 30-year-old’s body."
  • "Simon Kinberg and I had a chat about it and we came up with a whole bunch of idea about how, why and where he might go bald. It’s got to be linked to the plot though. In the comics, he lost his hair as soon as his powers awakened, and we clearly didn’t follow the source material. It can’t just be that he looks in the mirror at the end of the film and goes ‘Oh [frick], I’m losing my hair’. Although that could be quite funny with all this shit going on... he goes ‘Arge, I’m really stressed...’ "
  • "As a fan of the X-Men world and lexicon, I share lots of other fans’ hopes and dreams and I’d like to see Sentinels..."
  • "It'll be cool, but I don't think we get any scenes together, sadly. I don't think there's any future self talking to past self."
  • "Having an X-Men in your back pocket, which hopefully will go for three movies, it makes you go, 'Right, it doesn't matter if I make 14 films that nobody sees...because in two years' time I'll make another X-Men'. Meanwhile, Fox are thinking, 'Why isn't this [frick]er out there building his profile so he can make us more money on the second X-Men?' But that's their fault for hiring me!"
  • "The X-Men script? It’s in my inbox… I’ve still got to read it. I’m very excited about it but I’ve just been doing so much of this interviews and working at night so I’m starting work at 9 and don’t finish until midnight so I’m not being flippant… I honestly can’t wait to read it and find out what I’m doing but I’ve just got no time right now."
  • "It’s huge, the cast is huge. You got me, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult will be back and he’s just blossoming massively over in America. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Alan Cumming, Peter Dinklage I hear mentioned – I don’t know if that’s happening – “Huge” Jackman is coming by. He’s massive, 7’5″ and muscle-ly."
  • "I think it’s going to be quite a dark journey compared to the caddish, almost playboy character that we turned him into in the first movie. I think it will be going through a darker place to ultimately get a sorted Professor X that we’re used to seeing come the third movie. This movie might be a little bit more of a passing through the crucible for him."
  • "It’s going to be a humongous cast. It’s going to be like the cast of the beach scenes in Saving Private Ryan but everyone’s a mutant and everyone you’ve seen in other movies before."
  • "It’s great. It’s really good and strong. I think fans will love it. I think people who have never seen any of the previous X-Men films before are going to be really into it. I think it’s satisfying and giving people what they want, while at the same time being challenging and giving them something different, new, and unexpected."
  • "Yeah, I can’t wait to work with Michael again, Jennifer and Nick. It’s going to be great, we got along so well the first time around. That’ll be fun. Then also, getting to team up with Sir Patrick. I don’t know if I get to work with Sir Ian, but it should be a real exciting time I think."
  • "There's a little element in the script in the first couple of pages of Charles' character where he seems like he's sort of picking up a girl in a bar. And I thought, Let's take that and run with it. I kind of pushed and pushed -- to really try to take him as far away from the Professor X that we've seen before in the comics and the cartoon and as portrayed by Patrick in the movies as well -- he's kind of like a monk. He's a sage. And he's wise and he's very in control of himself and sort of selfless. I wanted to take him the opposite way -- without making him a bad guy. But, make him selfish and a little bit egotistical and all of those things. I think that helped -- the fact I wasn't actually trying to do Patrick Stewart in the body of a 30-year-old man. I think if I would have done that, people would have rejected me."
  • "No. Not yet. I think that may come. I mean, who knows? Who knows where it's going to go? That may come in the third movie but definitely not in this movie. We're not in the same place that we were in the first movie with Charles -- a very different place from there. But we're also still on a very different place from where Patrick was in the other movies."
  • "I'm excited about my costumes, which are [frick]ing awesome. He's on his way to becoming Patrick Stewart, but he's not quite there yet. The '70s costumes are hilarious , they're quite psychedelic, which is great."
  • "Hugh's got a big part. You throw Hugh Jackman in there and he comes with so much rage. I'm really looking forward to working with him. He'd better [frick]ing bring it. I'm excited to work with McKellen to."
  • "It's working off what we set up in the first 'new' one. The relationship between Charles and Erik is being explored in the future and in the past."
  • "There’s an army of brilliant actors in that film. Bryan Singer is back at the helm. Potentially it’s going to be the biggest, most epic X-Men they've ever had. I think it’s the second biggest production Fox have ever embarked upon, behind Avatar. So they're definitely going for it."
  • "Bryan’s very protective of the series. He did create it. He did help form that environment that allowed subsequent superhero movies to exist and thrive like they have done for the last however many years. Not to say that there weren't other superhero movies out at the time, but of that ilk, where it was OK to take it really seriously. He does take it really seriously. There’s a kind or reverence about it, which I like. You want people to take it seriously. That’s what he brings to it I think. And a safe pair of hands – you know you're in good hands."
  • "His last day was my first day and that was it. Then we were done. But we did crossover and we do get a scene together. Getting to work with Hugh – who I christened Hugo Boss – was great. What he’s like on camera when he’s getting interviewed and you think he’s the nicest man in show business – he is. He’s amazing. The guy’s got grace coming out of every single pore. If we could all be a bit more like Hugh it would be a very happy planet."
  • "Getting to work with Michael Fassbender again was great. I spent a hell of a lot of time with Nicholas Hoult. Weirdly the people that I spent the most time with acting-wise was not Michael this time, it was Hugh and Nick. And whilst I bemoaned the loss of my buddy Michael, it was more than made up for by the fact that Hugh and Nick are such amazing people."
  • "He’s in everything. He’s a great guy. He’s so smart thematically and structurally. He just knows how to make these things work. He’s a great guy. I had a great time working on X-Men, the first one and the second one with him. Not the FIRST one, but our first one with the new guys. We got to work even more closely on Days of Future Past."
  • "When you’ve got that a story and that many cast members, you need to orchestrate it well. That’s going to happen in editing as well and probably with pickups. Every single movie you do, whether it’s a big one or a small one, they always have some kind of additional footage shot. Even better is to do it on the day. You always get on set and find stuff that works great on the page doesn’t work well on the screen. You get halfway through the film and you go ‘that stuff that we changed four weeks ago with that scene doesn’t work with that character now, but we still need them to come up and really have their time here so we need to change it.’ You need somebody like Simon who can work fast, who can be insightful and get to the core of what the script needs really quick. To watch him problem solve as we went was incredible."
  • "Wolverine basically plays the Charles Xavier role in this movie and I kind of play the Wolverine role."
  • "I'll be older in this one. And I think I'm losing my hair finally. And, yeah, that's kind of all I know. I got an email from Simon Kinberg who informed me he was getting dead excited about stuff, but he didn't want to divulge anything for a couple of weeks, so I really don't know. It does seem fairly global, if we're talking apocalypse. Maybe it's just the character's name, but I think the nature of the film is going to be fairly apocalyptic."
  • "He ends up going through something so horrible and painful that he literally half pulls his hair out half… it falls out. I just sh*t myself because I know, Fox Studios who own me might be angry with me for sharing that."

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