Hailed in 2006 by director Kevin Macdonald as the world’s “best British actor under 30 without question,” Glasgow native James McAvoy’s talent for playing flawed1 yet sympathetic characters made him an actor to watch for the new millennium. Officially starting his screen career at age 16 in the 1995 thriller, “The Near Room,” it would be another eight years before McAvoy landed2 his big break3 in the 2003 Sci-Fi4 Channel original miniseries, “Children of Dune.” After a handful of well-received television roles, McAvoy’s feature career took off in 2005, starting with a major role in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” (2005), followed closely with a truly impressive turn5 as an ethically ambiguous6 physician in the critical hit7, “The Last King of Scotland” (2006).
Born January 1, 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland, McAvoy was raised by his maternal grandparents after his parents divorced in 1986. Growing up in the 1980s, McAvoy soaked up8 the archetypal9 American popcorn movies of the period, including “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985), “Top Gun” (1986) and “Back to the Future” (1986). A self-described film lover and “sci-fi geek10,” McAvoy’s dreams of becoming an actor became a reality, when at age 15, the lad met Scottish actor David Hayman at a school-sponsored career day. Impressed by the youth, Hayman remembered McAvoy and gave him a call four months later to see if he would like to audition11 for a role in his latest film, “The Near Room” (1986) – a dark thriller about child prostitution. McAvoy’s tiny role in the movie – as the son of a pimp12 – won him a spot13 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Dance and Music.
After graduation, McAvoy moved to London, where he shared a small flat with four roommates and a Chihuahua14. Working at a bakery for his day job, the frustrated15 McAvoy nearly gave up on16 acting and seriously considered joining the Royal Navy, until he landed a small role in the World War II miniseries, “Band of Brothers” [Братья по оружию] (2001). From there, McAvoy sprung to worldwide attention with his role in the science-fiction miniseries, “Children of Dune.” Adapted from the works of Frank Herbert, the three-part, six-hour miniseries was produced in Germany and boasted17 an international cast18. As the young adult Leto Atreides II, McAvoy made his debut in the film’s second chapter and remained an instrumental19 figure in part three. The up-and-comer20 next turned up in a supporting role in the critically acclaimed British crime serial, “State of Play” [Игры власти] (2003). His well-received turn as hard-nosed journalist Dan Foster led to another popular television engagement – this time in the off-beat21 British comedy, “Shameless” (2004). During the filming of this program, McAvoy met an actress nine years his senior, Anne-Marie Duff. The two fell in love and eventually married in October of 2006.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
Despite McAvoy’s growing fame in the U.K., the actor remained largely unknown stateside22 until the release of the big-budget fantasy blockbuster, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Cast as the good-hearted faun23, Mr. Tumnus, McAvoy delighted24 long-time fans of the C.S. Lewis classic with his poignant25 portrayal26. Capitalizing27 on the public’s hunger for epic fantasy-adventures following the monster success of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Narnia” scored huge at the box office, earning nearly $750 million worldwide.
McAvoy’s most celebrated role to date, however, was a year later in “The Last King of Scotland” – the directorial debut of respected documentarian, Kevin McDonald. Based on journalist Giles Foden’s 1998 novel of the same name, “The Last King of Scotland” starred McAvoy as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, the head physician to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (played expertly by Forest Whitaker). McAvoy’s character, Garrigan – a fictionalized28 composite of several real-life figures – embodied29 the sort of character McAvoy played best: ambitious, flawed, but unquestionably human.
With a total of six films under his belt30 in a span of just two years, McAvoy showed no signs of slowing down his breakneck31 pace. In 2007, McAvoy starred in “Starter for 10” [Попасть в десятку], a romantic comedy set32 in the mid-1980s about a working-class lad from Essex enrolled at prestigious Bristol University trying to maintain his ties to home while looking to make the university team that’s appearing on a popular quiz show, all the while33 dividing his romantic interests between two very different co-eds34 (Alice Eve and Rebecca Hall). He next starred in “Atonement” (2007), playing the Cambridge boyfriend of a young woman (Keira Knightley) whose innocently naked frolicking about the family estate gets twisted by her mischievous sister (Saoirse Ronan) into an outrageous lie that has repercussions upon all involved for three decades to come.
McAvoy also starred alongside Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon in the modern fairytale “Penelope” (2006). His next film project is a comedy/thriller set in Dublin called “Perrier’s Bounty” that is expected to co-star his wife, Anne-Marie Duff. Shooting is scheduled35 to begin sometime in 2008.
1 flawed – с изъяном 2 to land – (зд.) получать 3 break – (зд.) роль-прорыв 4 sci-fi – /от science fiction/ научная фантастика 5 turn – (зд.) роль 6 ambiguous – двусмысленный 7 critical hit – имевший большой успех у критиков 8 to soak up – впитывать 9 archetypal – исконный 10 geek – помешанный 11 to audition – проходить прослушивание (на роль) 12 pimp – сутенер 13 spot – место 14 Chihuahua – чихуахуа (порода собак) 15 frustrated – разочарованный 16 to give up on – махнуть рукой на 17 to boast – быть счастливым обладателем 18 cast – состав исполнителей 19 instrumental – (зд.) важный 20 up-and-comer – перспективный молодой человек 21 off-beat – нетрадиционный 22 stateside – в США 23 faun – фавн 24 to delight – радовать 25 poignant – пронизывающий 26 portrayal – игра (актёрская) 27 to capitalize on – извлекать выгоду из 28 fictionalized – вымышленный 29 to embody – воплощать 30 under one’s belt – на счету 31 breakneck – головокружительный 32 set – (зд.) действие кот. происходит 33 all the while – все это время 34 co-ed – студентка (учебного заведения для лиц обоего пола) 35 scheduled – запланированный