He earned our respect in The Last King of Scotland, he stole our hearts in Atonement, and he made us fans for life in X-Men: First Class. So what is James McAvoy, the blue-eyed Scotsman, up to now?
Other than starring in Welcome to the Punch, a British cat-and-mouse thriller that’s currently in theaters, McAvoy also stars in April 5th’s Trance. Danny Boyle’s latest directorial project, Trance follows McAvoy’s Simon, a less-than-trustworthy art auctioneer who suffers amnesia and then undergoes hypnotherapy to try and remember the whereabouts of a painting he helped to steal. The result is a mental thriller that will have you questioning just about everything within the world of the film.
So what do these two projects have in common? The adorable, heart-of-gold characters that we have come to expect from McAvoy are long gone. McAvoy’s good-guy reputation is no more … at least temporarily.
“I was drawn to Welcome to the Punch by the director. I just responded to the fact that there was a British filmmaker trying not to do gritty urban drama about gangsters that talk with slang all the time but somebody trying to make an aspirational British slick action movie. Also getting to play somebody who was slightly less likeable was good fun. And then Trance came along. That the character was so messed up, really really did appeal to me. Welcome to the Punch is an all-out action thriller whereas I think Trance is more of a psychological thriller with elements of a heist movie thrown in,” McAvoy said.
But his big year doesn’t stop there. Although they don’t yet have U.S. release dates, McAvoy has three other films that fans can look forward to. In Filth, McAvoy plays the ultimate bad guy, who’s described as a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, all-around bigot and then McAvoy joins Jessica Chastain on-screen for the two-part feature film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, which documents the downfall of a relationship from both his and her perspective. And if that’s not enough, McAvoy is currently starring in an overseas production of MacBeth as well as working on a BBC radio production of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. “I don’t know what the f*** I was thinking,” he said about his crazy year.
It might seem like a lot for the 33-year-old actor, but after taking some time off to raise his kid after the last X-Men, he was ready to get back into the biz. And now that he’sbusier than ever, he has a new strategy for approaching Hollywood: balancing blockbusters with smaller indie films. “I knew I had X-Men coming along some time in the future, so I knew I didn’t have to do big, big, big movies. I knew I could do smaller, more interesting movies for a little while,” McAvoy said.
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