James McAvoy Biography

Film Actor, Television Actor, Theater Actor, Actor (1979–)
James McAvoy is a Scottish actor best known for his roles in The Last King of Scotland (2006), Atonement (2007) and X-Men: First Class (2011).


James McAvoy is a Scottish actor born on April 21, 1979, in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and at age 20 moved to London to pursue acting. His big break came while playing a faun named Mr. Tumnus in the hit film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005). Prominent opportunities followed, including roles in The Last King of Scotland (2006), Becoming Jane (2007), Atonement (2007), Wanted (2008) and X-Men: First Class (2011). McAvoy won a BAFTA Film Award for Orange Rising Star Award (2006) and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (2007).

Early Life

Actor James McAvoy was born on April 21, 1979, in Glasgow, Scotland. With a number of strong dramatic performances, McAvoy has emerged as a leading film actor. He grew up in Glasgow, moving with his grandparents after his parents divorced when he was 7. As a child, he thought of becoming a missionary and later considered joining the navy before acting caught his attention. McAvoy went to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to study acting.

At the age of 20, McAvoy moved to London, hoping to advance his career. He landed some film and television work in England, appearing on such shows as The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Foyle’s War. In the United States, McAvoy also won roles on the critically acclaimed 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers about World War II and the 2003 science fiction miniseries Children of Dune based on the book by Frank Herbert.

Career Breakthrough

Playing a faun named Mr. Tumnus, McAvoy scored a career breakthrough with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005). Based on the beloved book series by C. S. Lewis, the film explored the journey of four children to the fantastical, imaginary world of Narnia where animals talk and the forces of good and evil are battling for control of the mythic land. McAvoy won over audiences with his sincere and entertaining role as a half-man half-goat creature. He quickly became an actor to watch, winning the Orange Rising Star Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 2006.

Career Highlights

Taking on decidedly less family friendly fare, McAvoy played a fictional counterpart to the tyrannical Ugandan president, Idi Amin, in The Last King of Scotland (2006). The film shows the charisma and brutality of Amin, played by Forest Whitaker, largely through the eyes of McAvoy’s character, Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a Scottish doctor. After a chance meeting, Garrigan becomes Amin’s personal physician. At first charmed by Amin, Garrigan eventually sees light about the vicious ruler and suffers at his hands as a result. For his performance, McAvoy was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 2007.

Two of McAvoy's most recent efforts are Becoming Jane (2007) and Atonement (2007). He stars in Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway as writer Jane Austen. Set in the 1790s, the film explores the relationship between Austen and a young Irish lawyer played by McAvoy. In Atonement, which is based on the best-selling novel by Ian McEwan, he co-stars with Kiera Knightley as a servant’s son who is falsely accused of a crime, the repercussions of which are felt for decades.

Moving on to an action film, McAvoy played opposite Angelina Jolie in 2008's Wanted as a man who discovers his estranged father was assassin and decided to follow his footsteps. He later appeared opposite Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer in The Last Station (2009), which explored the life of famed Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. In 2011, McAvoy played a young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class. Patrick Stewart had played an older version of this character in previous X-Men films. McAvoy reprised this role for 2013's X-Men: Days of Future Past and the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.

In addition to his work on the popular X-Men film franchise, McAvoy played the legendary monster-maker in Victor Frankenstein (2015). He also has several projects in the works, including the thriller The Coldest City with Charlize Theron and the Wim Wenders drama Submergence with Alicia Vikander.

Personal Life

Besides being a talented actor, McAvoy is a skilled fencer and acrobat. He married to actress Anne-Marie Duff in 2006. The two met while appearing on the British television comedy Shameless.

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