James McAvoy

James McAvoy in Wanted

James McAvoy in “Wanted”

From the beginning, he was a phenom. Born in Scotland in 1979, James McAvoy earned a spot in the 1995 U.K. film “The Near Room,” which earned him placement in the Royal Scottish Academy of Dance and Music. And yet, instant work and recognition did not come easy for James.

Frustrated over his employment situation, James bided his time in London where he caught a minor break – a role in an episode of “Band of Brothers” in 2001. A few small bits for television led to the miniseries “Children of Dune,” with James cast as Leto Atreides II in the sci-fi drama that achieved an international fan following. A couple more miniseries and a supporting role in the Paul Bettany comedy “Wimbledon” led to “Shameless,” a breakout role that brought James a nomination from the British Comedy Awards for Best TV Comedy Newcomer. On “Shameless,” he also met his future wife, an actress named Anne-Marie Duff.

With “The Chronicles of Narnia” released in winter 2005 and “The Last King of Scotland” following in 2006 (the latter of which won him a BAFTA Scotland award as Best Actor), James had finally reached the exposure level his talent deserved. He played opposite Christina Ricci in “Penelope,” snagged the lead in “Starter for 10,” and romances Jane Austen via Anne Hathaway in “Becoming Jane.” But it was “Atonement” in 2007 that brought James staggering acclaim. He was nominated for a BAFTA Best Actor Award, won the Male Revelation prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, won the U.K. Empire Award, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.

His 2008 project, “Wanted,” not only shows his range as an actor, but a careful selectivity of projects that should help him from becoming too overexposed a rising star – something that has proven the downfall of many celebrities in recent years. James, though, built his credentials on his talent – and it is that talent which will ensure him a steady place in the business for quite some time.

James on the Screen

He’s Pvt. James Miller in the “Replacements” episode of “Band of Brothers,” Leto Atreides II in “Children of Dune,” Carl Colt in “Wimbledon,” Rory O’Shea in “Inside I’m Dancing,” Steve for 13 episodes of “Shameless,” Mr. Tumnus in “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Dr. Garrigan in “The Last King of Scotland,” Max in “Penelope,” Tom Lefroy in “Becoming Jane,” Robbie Turner in “Atonement,” and Wesley Gibson in “Wanted.”

James Says

On the celebrity culture:
“We’re in a horrible, repugnant place now where kids are told it’s their right and due to be hugely famous. Not good at their job, not good at anything, just hugely famous. This is not sane. Little girls think they’ll be famous if they have vast breast implants and might as well die if they don’t.”