There is some debate over the birth month of James McAvoy but many biographies claim that it is January 1st 1979. He was born in Scotstoun, Glasgow to James, a builder, and Elizabeth, a psychiatric nurse. When young James was 7 they separated and James and his younger sister, Joy, went to live with his grandparents.
James was pushed from a young age to be independent and was enrolled at St Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic secondary school. This religious foundation prompted an interest in James to become a priest. At age 16, however, James had an encounter with a film-maker, David Hayman, which was to change his life. Rather confidently he asked David Hayman whether he could be involved in his next project in any capacity. Four months later James was remembered and given a very small role in the thriller, The Near Room.
Whilst working in the bakery at Sainsbury’s supermarket, James decided to apply for a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and was accepted. For the next three years James McAvoy’s screen work was limited but he graduated from the Royal Academy and decided to try his luck in London, moving to the East End with his long-term girlfriend, Emma Neilson. James’ career was developing at a fast pace and he was cast in an adaptation of Lorna Doone and soon after, Band of Brothers, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
The year of 2001 would see James appearing at the theatre on a couple of occasions. A role in the adaptation of White Teeth, a novel by Zadie Smith, and the miniseries Children of Dune would ensure that James was to become more recognised as a young talent. By 2004 James had amazingly not been out of work since he left drama school and the parts he was playing were all so diverse that he was gaining valuable experience.
A break would come when he played the comical brother of Paul Bettany’s character in Wimbledon, also starring Kirsten Dunst. James then attempted a far more serious challenge by playing the character of Rory O’Shea who suffers from muscular dystrophy in Inside I’m Dancing. Next James returned to TV and starred in Shameless, the series depicting life on a tough estate in Manchester. James reached an emotional low at this point in his life, probably a result of the strains of having no breaks since acting school. Anne-Marie Duff, his Shameless co-star was there to guide him through this difficult time, and they would marry in October 2006.
His next character, Mr Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (the first release from the Chronicles Of Narnia franchise) would bring fame his way; he was now popular across many audiences. He received the Rising Star of 2006 award at the BAFTA’s, and was then to impress Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland, who cast him as the amazing character of Nicolas Garrigan. The film was a triumph.
On a personal side, James made a very important emotional journey whilst tackling the themes of this film. After the film was complete, James returned to Uganda to visit some of the real people who live there and to learn more about them. I think that this shows an amazing side to this talented actor; the roles he takes affect him and he is able to absorb this new knowledge and learn from it. I really respect that. In particular, James visited a project, Tiger’s club, which helps children to get off the streets and allows them to interact with other young people and play games such as football and learn other various skills. James actually narrated a short documentary called ‘On the Tigers Trail’ which has been aired on the community channel in the UK and shows him talking to these young people and allows the world to see the great work that this project is doing in order to helping the young people reintegrate into Ugandan life. Here is the link on youtube where you can see some of the work he did out in Uganda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjt5NDXRbUM
Here is also another short clip of James in Uganda with the Red Cross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4aVIK2DzkI&mode=related&search=
If you want to find out more about the work that James was trying to promote then it is well worth visiting this site: http://www.retrak.org/
Only a day after returning from Uganda, we would see James start filming Starter For Ten, produced by Tom Hanks and Sam Mendes. Becoming Jane was released in the UK in March 2007 and James has captured the world (and most visiting this site) with his charming and flawless performance of Tom Lefroy. It is only hoped that he receives the praise that he deserves for his tremendous talent. Also this year we are to see the release of Atonement, with Keira Knightley, Penelope, with Christina Ricci and Wanted, with Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. He is only traveling in one direction and that is up.
I know that both myself and Icha have particular favourite roles that James has played (other than Tom Lefroy of course) so I have included a few other pictures of his characters below.
I also found this article (pasted below) in the ‘Jane Austen Regency World, Issue 26’ magazine. I hope that you enjoy.
Pic 3: James and his wife Anne-Marie Duff, co-star in Shameless. Taken from google images.
Pic 4: James appealing for donations for the work being done in Uganda. Taken from http://www.retrak.org/
Pic 5: James as Mr Tumnus in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Taken from ‘Zap2it’ photo galleries.
Pic 6: James as Tom Lefroy in ‘Becoming Jane’. Taken from http://www.jamesmcavoy.com/
Pic 7: James as Rory O’Shea in ‘Inside I’m Dancing. Taken from http://www.jamesmcavoy.com/