James McAvoy – He was a rather unconvential type for a leading man, but 15 years later he’s still going strong

September 2007 By Philip Berk

Before he cheated on her (in her ninth month of pregnancy no less) by running off with Claire Danes, Billy Crudup referred to his girl friend Mary Louise Parker as someone whose genius as an actor he could never hope to approach.

And he wasn’t far wrong.

I think James McAvoy could’ve been equally gallant when talking about his wife of only a few months.

It was last February at his Starter for Ten  press conference when he had been married only three months.

When asked who the lucky girl was he descried her as an actress, some aspiring unknown, we thought.

It took Cate Blanchett to give her her rightful due.

Asked if she had watched Helen Mirren’s Elizabeth, she purposely evaded the question by rattling off the names of all the actresses who had played Elizabeth and then suddenly she remembered, “There was also another one made, Anne Marie Duff’s, which was fantastic.”

So how did James identify her?

“Well, I’m the lucky guy really. She works a lot as an actress. We met on a TV show called Shameless three years ago. We played lovers, and we became lovers, and it’s been pretty much happy ever after ever since.”

In Starter for Ten he has to choose  between a blonde bombshell and an intellectual brunette.

Has he ever faced such a dilemma in real life?

Obviously embarrassed by the question, he blushes.

“I would have been incredibly lucky to have been in a situation like that. I never found myself in that position, but I would like to think that I would not go for the blonde bombshell just because she had bigger boobs. I’m a bit more sophisticated than that and was so even in my youth. I don’t really talk about my wife, but just to say she’s the best woman I’ve ever met.”

Well that’s a little bit better!

On that film Tom Hanks was one of the producers.

He was making The Da Vinci Code in London at the time so he was able to visit the set occasionally.

Was that intimidating.

“Not at all. He never told people what to do. He was really hands off. What he would do is he would come down and have lunch with us and make us laugh and make us feel comfortable. The thing that is really nice is your boss is not only a huge Hollywood A list bankable star who makes you go Omigod, but your boss is someone who’s done the kind of job you’re currently doing more times than you’ve had hot dinners, and the fact that he has confidence in you made us all really feel empowered.”

Now that he’s a married man  what has he learned about women from his mother, his grandmother, his sister, and now his wife?

(He has one of each.)

“My grand mother worked her fingers to the bone, had five kids, she’s the kind that treats her husband like a saint. My sister is a much more modern woman, has taken control of her own life. My wife is the same, believes in taking control of her life, sacrifice on the one hand, self empowerment on the other.”

Has marriage affected his fan base

“I don’t know. I try not to think of it really. It’s happened to a lot of actors.”

How does your wife deal with it?

“The same way I deal with it with her. I’m glad you’re admired. I just have to kind of live with it. I am glad people find my face attractive, but I don’t want to go swinging.” 

How Scottish are you, and do you have a kilt?

“My money’s in my back pocket and it’s never coming out of my back pocket,” he jokes. “I do bank at the Royal Bank of Scotland. I only drink Scotch whisky, and I do have a kilt I inherited from my grandfather.”

And you wear nothing underneath?

“You don’t wear anything underneath; in fact I have a picture of my best men at my wedding showing that they wore nothing underneath.”

In choosing parts, do you follow the advice of your agent and manager?

“I make a lot of decisions on my own, but I take a hell of a lot of advice from my agents.`

Was it hard resisting Keira’s charms?

“I think she’s an incredible actress. I think she’s brilliant in Atonement. I think she’s wonderful. But I’m very much in love with my wife, and Keira is too young for me anyway,” he jokes

While making Atonement on location, what did he do, at the end of the day to unwind?

“I had a cottage about ten minutes walk from where we were filming. I’d go and roast a chicken, have a glass of wine, watch Wimbledon or the World Cup. There was also a big house where the rest of the cast stayed with Joe (Wright the director) and some of the crew members. Sometimes I’d go visit them, but I wanted to stay separate from them as much as possible partly because I’m too old for that shit, but also because I wanted to keep myself and the character separate. I thought to myself, I come from a working class background  and Robbie (my character) comes from a working class background; he lives in a separate house. Maybe I should keep myself separate as much as possible.”

Was your wife with you?
”She was working on Dominic Savage’s film London at the time.”  

Not even to visit!

Does he cry in movies?

“Yeah, lots of films make me cry. The Goonies makes me cry. I cry easily in films.”

He received the GQ Man of the Year award in London. 

Are you interested in fashion?

“My relationship to fashion is sketchy and shaky at best. At the behest of my friends, family, and advisers, I manage to get a shirt and suit jacket on when I do festivals. But if it was left up to me, I’d be looking pretty shoddy. I have very old clothes I should give away to Oxfam or throw out because they’ve got holes in them.

What are you wearing today?

“It’s Clemens en August. who made me a couple of suits. They’re German, a small company, but very nice.”

You just finished a movie with Angelina Jolie (Wanted.)

Can you talk about her?

“I’ve got a lot of respect for her. Like Keira, she’s at the center of a big publicity thing that never ends. I applaud the way she manages to get on with her day and be fairly normal and honest with you and willing to collaborate and  have a good laugh.”

Nicely said.