James McAvoy was once described as “a Scottish Michael J. Fox”. While the actor has a similar unassuming, likable and charming quality to Fox, who made a name for himself playing comedic roles, he’s proving to be anything but typecast.
Taking to acting as a teenager after considering priesthood, it took almost a decade of stage and television roles for him to earn critical success on film, playing a charming, devil-may-care youth with duchenne muscular dystrophy in Inside I’m Dancing.
Landing the role of Mr. Tumnus in the adaptation of fantasy adventure The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe signalled a turning point in McAvoy’s career. Reaching a global platform, he won audiences over in the quiz comedy romance Starter for 10 and quickly followed this up with a noteworthy performance opposite Forest Whitaker’s chilling take on Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. While he was nominated for a BAFTA for this role, it wasn’t until he finally succumbed to Joe Wright’s persistent overtures that he made his breakthrough opposite Keira Knightley in the haunting war drama romance, Atonement.
Since then, McAvoy has run amok starring opposite some of Hollywood’s finest in anything from action thrillers like Wanted and fantasy sci-fi adventures like X-Men: First Class to pensive art house dramas like The Last Station. Yet, McAvoy remains restless, never stopping to rest on his laurels… taking every performance as a fresh new challenge to prove himself worthy and stay elusive, tenacious and relevant. As though his quest for new challenges has no limits, he recently undertook the role of a kidnapper with 23 distinct personalities in M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological horror thriller Split. The tour de force demonstrated McAvoy’s incredible ability and just underlines the fact that he is one of the most versatile and underrated actors working in Hollywood today.