James McAvoy, 35, is best known for Atonement and the X-Men blockbusters and recently won the Scottish Bafta for comedy crime drama Filth. The Glasgow-born actor talks to Roger Crow.
WAS ACTING YOUR FIRST LOVE?
No! Acting was something that came out of nowhere really. A director gave me an audition out of the blue. I’d never done drama classes. I’d never even done kiddie drama or anything, so it was a fairly left-field thing. Drama school was responsible for making me really love acting. I went to drama school not even certain that I wanted to be an actor; quite foolish. But luckily it instilled in me a real love for acting.
YOU WERE THE FIRST WINNER OF THE EE RISING STAR AWARD. WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG ACTORS?
It’s that thing where it does the same job as Best Newcomer... and a little bit more as well. It’s voted for by the people, and I like that a lot. You get your peers who put you in there, and then they hand it over to the people who actually go to the cinema, so you get a really true representation.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY?
The opportunity to tell a story about adult love and all its complexities and hardships and all its emotional violence. It was really a very grown-up approach to a love story, and it has a kind of truth to it, and at the same time it managed to obtain a sort of romantic transcendence, which was all down to an amazing writer who also directed it. A guy called Ned Benson, and he’s done a fantastic job on it.
WERE YOU EVER IN THE RUNNING TO PLAY SCOTTY IN JJ ABRAMS’ STAR TREK?
Ahhh. I shall never reveal. I never really say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether I’ve been in the running for something; I don’t think it’s really cool for the actor who gets it, but Star Trek is brilliant and I remain a committed Trekkie.
ONE OF YOUR PENDING MOVIES IS VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN. AS THE EPONYMOUS LEAD, HOW DO YOU APPROACH SUCH A ROLE?
Just the same as always really. You’ve got to figure out what you think the story is; identify what you think everyone expects to see; how much of that you decide you’re going to give them, and then how much you’re going to do different. The script actually does a fair old bit of that for us; the script concentrates on the relationship between Dr Frankenstein and the character who isn’t even in the book - Igor [Daniel Radcliffe] - so that’s the main central crux of the story. It’s gonna be a different character than the one who was obsessed with creating flesh.
lNext year is the 10th anniversary of the EE Rising Star Award, the only accolade at the EE BAFTAs voted for by the British public. Nominees will be announced and voting will open on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.