James McAvoy (born 21 April 1979) is a Scottish actor. He made his acting début as a teen in 1995’s The Near Room and continued to make mostly television appearances until 2003, when his feature film career began and he continued to work in both areas from then on. His notable television work includes the drama show State of Play, the adult comedy-drama Shameless, and the science fiction show Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune. Besides screen acting, McAvoy has performed in several West End productions, receiving three nominations for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. He has also done voice work for animated films including Gnomeo & Juliet and Arthur Christmas (both 2011).
In 2003, McAvoy appeared in a lead role in Bollywood Queen, a British Indian take on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, directed by Jeremy Wooding. This was followed by a supporting role, the faun Mr. Tumnus, in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). His performance in Kevin Macdonald’s drama The Last King of Scotland (2006) garnered him several award nominations. The critically acclaimed romantic drama war film Atonement (2007) earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and his second BAFTA nomination. He appeared opposite Angelina Jolie as a newly trained assassin in the action thriller Wanted (2008).
Since then, he is notable for playing the young Professor Charles Xavier in the 2011 superhero film X-Men: First Class, a role he reprises in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). McAvoy starred in the 2013 crime comedy-drama film Filth for which he won Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards.
McAvoy’s acting debut came at the age of 15 in The Near Room (1995). He later admitted that he was not very interested in acting when joining the movie, but was inspired to study the craft after developing feelings for his co-star, Alana Brady. He continued to act while still a member of PACE Youth Theatre. McAvoy eventually graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000. Throughout the early 2000s, he made guest appearances in television shows and began working on movies. In 2001, McAvoy’s performance as a gay hustler in the play Out in the Open impressed director Joe Wright so much that Wright began offering McAvoy parts in his films. McAvoy kept declining them, however, and it wasn’t until six years later that the two actually worked together.
He also starred in Privates on Parade in the Donmar Warehouse, this time catching Sam Mendes’ attention. Also in 2001, the actor appeared as Private James W. Miller in Band of Brothers, an eleven-hour World War II miniseries by executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. This is the same miniseries in which his future coworker, Michael Fassbender, played the role of Burton “Pat” Christenson. It was shown on the HBO network. He gained the attention of critics in 2002’s White Teeth, a four-part television drama miniseries adaption based on the novel of the same name by Zadie Smith.