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Check out James’ latest interview with Elle Magazine.
ELLE: You considered entering the priesthood as a young man. Were you prepared to take a vow of celibacy?
James McAvoy: Yeah, I thought I’d give it a buzz. I wanted to be a missionary and work abroad, but girls started to become a bigger part of my life around the time I lost interest in the priesthood.
ELLE: Have you always been good with women?
JM: Girls didn’t really take much interest in me until I was about 14. But I knew how to talk to them very quickly. What I figured out—that my friends didn’t—was you have to talk to women like you’re not constantly trying to have sex with them. That seemed to work.
ELLE: You ride motorcycles. Did that start as a way to impress women?
JM: No. You should see my motorcycle. Google “2001 blue Honda Hornet 600″ and you’ll see how uncool I look on my bike.
ELLE: You’re famous for your blue eyes. Was there ever a time they got you out of trouble?
JM: Well, I am an actor. And I can cry at the drop of a hat.
ELLE: You’ve faked crying to get out of an argument? Give me the story.
JM: I can’t. It would make certain people feel bad.
ELLE: Has a woman ever made you actually cry?
JM: Yeah, totally. Tons. Because we split up, or because they cheated on me. I’ve cried a lot because of women. I cry a lot, as a person.
ELLE: Who would cheat on you?
JM: Everybody’s been cheated on, haven’t they?
ELLE: Did you learn something from infidelity?
JM: Just don’t try to flog a dead horse.
ELLE: That’s very evolved thinking. What were your early relationships like?
JM: I learned something from a string of failed relationships. You don’t see a pattern quickly. You see it over time. I learned to stop jumping in at the first sign of attraction.
ELLE: Meaning you would get too serious too quickly?
JM: No, no. As soon as you’re attracted to someone, you go for it—whether or not it’s a good idea. Basically, just going out and getting laid. But I finally met the person I’m in love with and want to spend the rest of my life with.
ELLE: You got married in 2006. How did you know it was right?
JM: You never know it’s the right one. I don’t think there is a “right” one. There are many people you could fall in love with forever. Marriage is an ongoing thing, man. You continue to work at it. But it’s joyful. And joyous. I don’t care if people are living without a marriage certificate. It’s just about people, in some way, saying to each other, I commit to you. I will help you in this life. We’re not in this room for the next 20 years by accident. We’re here because we mean it.
ELLE: What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?
JM: I don’t know. I’ve done a lot of stupid shit. I think the most romantic thing you can do is just turn up. Turn up when it’s difficult for you. Travel halfway around the world or just up the road. Whatever it is, just be there.
ELLE: You have a pretty explicit sex scene in Trance with Rosario Dawson. Did you discuss that with your wife first?
JM: No. Anne-Marie and I are both actors. We never tell each other when we have to do anything kinky. We keep it to ourselves. Then afterward we’ll tell each other, “I had to do a bit of kissing today.” It’s fine. It’s just embarrassing and awkward.
ELLE: Actors always say love scenes are awkward. But when Rosario walks in the room, naked—
JM: It’s so awkward! You’re sitting there going, “Okay. Don’t look. Don’t move your mouth.” When they say action, you play it truthfully. Before that, you don’t want to make anybody feel like they’re being ogled, so I’m just sitting there on the bed with it all out. Hopefully people are being respectful toward me as well!
ELLE: For years, people asked you what it was like to kiss Angelina Jolie in Wanted.
JM: [Laughs] Ask her what it’s like to kiss me, motherfucker! That’s been my reply quite a lot. I remember the camera crew getting really excited—and excited on my behalf. “Guys, it’s just a screen kiss. Calm down.” They were all in love with her. But it was just another day at the office.
ELLE: Nice office. Do you see yourself as a sex symbol?
JM: No, not at all. Generally, I play the guy where it’s a bit like: Yeah, he’s not unattractive, but it’s not his looks that make the lead girl want to be with him, so much. That’s the way I always feel in my head. I feel like I get away with more than what I was given.
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The Scot is currently starring as Macbeth – also nominated in the best revival category – at the Trafalgar studios in London.
He said: “The last time I got nominated for an Olivier I was up against Mark Rylance and I didn’t win it because you can’t beat him.
“He’s the best actor in the world.”
McAvoy was nominated in 2010 for his role in Three Days of Rain, directed by Jamie Lloyd – currently his Macbeth director -but lost out to Rylance, nominated for his role as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in the hit play Jerusalem.
He added: “That’ll probably happen again this year.”
Rylance is in the running for his performance in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe.
The actors are up against Rafe Spall for Constellations, Rupert Everett for The Judas Kiss and Luke Treadaway for The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
McAvoy has been widely praised for his role as the doomed, homicidal ruler in the play, set in a dystopian Scotland around fifty years into the future.
He said the cast were surprised when the nominations were announced: “We didn’t realise that we were in the catchment, we thought we may have been in consideration the following year”.
“Its just lovely to be nominated and for the company to get nominated for best revival, was just such an important thing for us because its an outpouring of energy in this show.
“It doesn’t really work unless we try and hurt ourselves, physically and mentally and spiritually and its really nice and we’ve all got tickets and we’re all going and we’re going to get battered.”
McAvoy, who is currently sporting cuts and bruises and a heavily bandaged thumb due to the demand of the brutally physical role added he is proud to suffer for his art.
“My favourite kind of theatre is when I see the actors bleed and sweat blood and look like they’re having heart attacks. You’ve got to try and dash yourself without breaking yourself too much.”
John Simm and Simon Russell Beale Simm (L) and Beale will star in Pinter’s The Hothouse
Macbeth was the first production in Lloyd’s Trafalgar Transformed season. According to Lloyd, around 35,000 people have seen the play with 5,000 using a discounted price scheme including young people, schoolchildren, and charities working with former prisoners and young offenders.
The season’s next production – also to be directed by Lloyd – is Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse – set in a 1950s mental institution. It will star John Simm and Simon Russell Beale.
Beale, who recently starred in Privates on Parade in the West End, said: “I read the play quickly and there was one thing I found very exciting which was chucking a glass of whisky in someone’s face.
“I gasped, what seemed like an office drama me suddenly became something different and that’s why I decided to do it.”
Simm, who can be seen in the BBC’s latest drama The Village, heaped praise on his co-star and director saying: “I did Pinter’s Betrayal last year and it was such fun to do and I got a little bit obsessed by him.
“Then, this came up this year which was serendipity I guess and it was Jamie – who I’m a big fan of – and the chance to work with Simon is a once in a lifetime thing… maybe.”