Oct 19, 2010

"I only really dance sitting down." - James McAvoy

(The title is from a YouTube video, an Unscripted interview with James and Keira Knightley. He gives a demonstration of his best moves as he tells about the song he likes to dance to the most. Aww, isn't he adorable...)

James Andrew McAvoy was born in 21 April 1979, in Port Glasgow, Scotland. Before inspired to go into acting, he thought about becoming a missionary or joining the Navy. He worked his way through gueststarring in TV shows and little roles in little films, into leading roles and the hearts of audiences. For his role in the 2007 film Atonement he was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA. He's established a small-ish, yet loyal fanbase, which I'm proud to be a part of.

Like many others, I first became acquainted with James McAvoy around Christmas in 2005, when I saw him in the first Narnia film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which he played the faun, Mr. Tumnus. Though the role is not that big, he caught my attention. I walked around in my red, hand-knitted scarf a lot that winter... (It's actually still my favourite scarf. I'm almost happy it's getting colder, because now I get to use it again!)

Next I saw him in The Last King of Scotland. I took a film course in English in high school (or whatever I should call the Finnish 'lukio'. I never really got the hang of these terms...) and we got to choose which film we wanted to see in cinema. I voted for this one, because "it has Mr. Tumnus in it!" and fortunately we ended up seeing it, instead of Nic Cage's Ghost Rider.... Gee. The movie is very very good, and James is very very good in it. Everyone always talks about Forest Whitaker and his Oscar-worthy performance as the dictator Idi Amin (don't get me wrong, I know he's phenomenal), but James' performance as the young Scottish doctor, who becomes Amin's personal advisor, shouldn't be overlooked.

What did it for me for good, however, was Atonement. Robbie Turner, a housekeeper's son, who falls in love with Keira Knigthley's rich girl Cecilia - and who then are ripped apart by a terrible lie - is a great, multidimensional character, whom James plays just beautifully, in his journey from the easygoing, goodhearted, lovesick gardener boy to the sick and tired, mentally unstable soldier. He's brilliant and funnily enough, James has been my favourite actor ever since. He was also a major contributor in the process that made Atonement possibly my favourite film of all time. Or at least one of the Ultimate Favourites.

After James established his position at the top of my Most Wanted list, I began to hunt down as many of his films as I could, determined to like them, no matter what. Not very surprisingly, I've liked every one of his films I've seen so far, more or less. I even like him in Wimbledon, as the idiotic cyclist brother of Paul Bettany! Not very unbiasedly, I admit.

Inside I'm dancing, or Rory O'Shea Was Here as it's called in US (I like the UK title so much more, I think it's brilliant and and one of my favourite movie titles ever), is one of James' earlier films. He plays Rory O'Shea, a young disabled man, who arrives at a residental home and turns things upside down by his sarcastic, foul-mouthed, rebellious attitude. Inside I'm Dancing is a genuinely funny and touching little film and it's nice to see James in a slightly less traditional role.

Becoming Jane is a light, harmless, a bit dramatized story of how a young woman named Jane Austen became the great, famous Jane Austen we know today. James plays her love interest Tom Lefroy, who charms Jane with her arrogance and that city-boy-ish recklessness. It's a romcom, really, set in the late 18th century! And James is as drool-excreting (yep, just coined a new word...) as ever, ah! That library scene (James handles himself very well in libraries, just think of Atonement...) is wonderfully electric and of course the dance scene - hearts skip beats everywhere as he emerges out of nowhere (happens at 1:10, approximately, if you're impatient), and that smile, oh man...

Then there's Starter for 10, a silly little romcom about a nerdy college kid and a trap of two girls. It's quite funny, actually, but if James wasn't in it, I probably never would have watched it in the first place, let alone bought it on DVD. Haha. Favourite actors make us do crazy things.

In Penelope James plays the love interest of Christina Ricci, a girl under a curse. You know, she has a nose of a pig, and so on. I know it sounds horrible, but Penelope is quite charming and sweet, really, a modern fairytale, one could say. James' character is a young man with a serious gambling problem, and he rocks that awesome straight, messy, long-ish hair. Great hairdo, okay film.

Before seeing Wanted I wasn't entirely sure wheter he would be able to pull it off or not. Let's face it - when you think of an actionhero, James McAvoy is the last thing that comes to your mind. At least before Wanted. James plays Wesley Gibson, who's just so thoroughly bored with his life, he doesn't even bother doing anything about it. Then he's trained to be an assassin and he kicks ass and bends bullets and kisses Angelina Jolie. And, what do you know, he turned out to be a totally believable badass! The film is just ridiculously absurd but highly entertaining and that one action scene towards the end kind of made me drool as I worshipfully stared at the screen. Damn, my little James was all grown up.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I lived in England, near London, for seven months in 2008-09. During one of my numerous trips to the wonderful, lovely, awesome capital of UK, I walked past a poster in the subway. I only had spotted the name 'James McAvoy' on it, before the flow of people forced me to move on. That was enough, though. I soon found out he was performing in a play called Three Days of Rain. This was obviously far too good an opportunity to be missed - I probably never would've forgiven myself if I had. 

So, I bought the ticket for a price that almost made me grimace (but only almost!), and the last week before returning to Finland, I sat down in an uncomfortable seat in row 12 (too far from the stage for my taste - I wanted to see every pore and every drop of perspiration!) in Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. Minutes before the play started I began to sweat and my pulse raced, as I was suddenly certain James had become ill and I'd be forced to watch an understudy do his role. Luckily, my worries were all in vain.
The play was... okay. I blame the damn language barrier for the fact that I didn't enjoy it too much - there was a lot of talk, rapid talk, and the language was quite difficult. I mean, I knew what was going on, but not understanding all of the dialogue deprived me of the biggest possible indulgence, damn it. But it was quite a good play, and interesting acting-wise - act one was set in the present, and the second act in the past, so, for example, in act two James played the father of his other character. And guess what? I thought he was amazing. There were only three actors, so he really had a chance to shine. Also, there actually rained on the stage for a couple of times, which was cool. There was fire, too!
Afterwards, I went to the stagedoor with a bunch of other people (mostly young-ish females... go figure) and got his autograph. It was so weird. I condenced all my feelings of awe and years of admiration into one highly clever and witty sentence: "I hope my pen works." Plus I muttered it so quietly I doubt he even heard me. Then I walked away, stopped after a while and thought about going back because the whole thing had happened so quickly - I'd hardly had a good look at him - but I kept going in the end and sent my friend a message saying that my hand had just been an inch away from James McAvoy's. Damn, it still feels so surreal... I have the autograph hanging on my wall, and every now and then I stop to look at it and just think "oh MAN".

Next James lents his voice to a cartoon Gnomeo and Juliet. It's Romeo and Juliet... with garden gnomes....... It sound very, eh, tired, but the trailer looks actually kind of fun. Then there's two big-budget sequels (or the other one is a prequel), Wanted 2 (haha. Okay. Bet it'll be twice as ridiculous) and X-Men: First Class (so I guess I have to do some magic and become interested in X-Men, then...). Last year he starred in The Last Station, which I haven't yet got my hands on. But anyway. Life looks quite good.

Wrap-up, then. Now I should explain why I really like him so much. These things don't really follow any rational pattern, not in my case at least. I'm sure there are many actors with as much or more talent, better looks and more successful careers, so why on Earth is some random little Scot my favourite actor? Maybe because of this or this. Because he's so funny and charming and genuine, and he has a lovely lovely accent and lovely lovely blue eyes and a messy hair, and he seems so amazingly down-to-earth (I'm a sucker for down-to-earth), and when I briefly met him, he seemed - though quite relaxed, polite and kind - a bit awkward, as if it'd felt as odd to him as it suddenly felt to me, that I was asking this totally normal guy to write his name on a piece of paper. I like normal. Normal rocks. Therefore I like James McAvoy. And James McAvoy indeed does rock.

I finish with some quotes and my favourite picture of my favourite actor. Oh, how I adore him.

"I always believed that I never wanted to be an actor. I only did it because I was allowed to do it and I had to do something."

"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."

"The minute you start to strategize too much, the more you start to think you're in control of your own fate. And you're not, really."

 (So that was 'the big  secret', haha. Hope it was worth the epic wait... Also, if you made it this far... I salute you, mate! This was a pretty, eh, lenghty post. It had to be.)


Marja said...

Wow, quite an ode to McAvoy :). I know what you mean, he has a certain charm and plus, he's cute a button!

Eeva said...

Yeah :D For some reason I hadn't really written about him before, so I thought I might as well let it all out at once ;)

Marja said...

Looove your new header banner!

Eeva said...

Oh, glad to hear it! I quite like it, too :)