James McAvoy is due to hit the big screen in his new film Split on January 20th, where his character, Kevin, is host to 23 personalities. This is no doubt a challenging a role, but McAvoy has demonstrated his versatility as an actor in multiple films making him the perfect candidate. From a nine-year-old boy, to a middle-aged woman ‘Miss Patricia’, each character he plays has their own unique identity.
Let’s take a look at the other faces of McAvoy leading up to this point:
McAvoy became more recognisable after his role as Steve in the popular TV series Shameless. He played a thief who stole cars and got caught up in dodgy deals, however he was introduced to the audience as a sweet guy who was infatuated with Fiona (Anne-Marie Duff) so no one would have thought his character would roll out as a criminal. The two were soul-mates from day one who maintained a solid relationship throughout the show and despite Steve’s not-so-legal side practices, he always showed an unfaltering kindness towards Fiona. Here we see a glimpse of McAvoy displaying two types of characters in one role.
The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)
James McAvoy plays the friendly Mr Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia; a sweet flute playing half goat, half man. The audience falls in love with him as much as young girl, Lucy, after he becomes her friend on her first visit to Narnia. He has a nervous disposition and seems innocent, however all is not right in Narnia and we see a different side to Mr Tumnus when he betrays Lucy when threatened by the queen. Another example of McAvoy’s ability to skilfully play different persona’s, and luckily by the end of the film Mr. Tumnus is back to his old self that audiences know and love.
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
McAvoy next steps into a much more serious role playing Nicholas Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland, who is a young adventurous Scottish doctor. He travels to Uganda to become the personal physician of President Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), completely unaware of the gross crimes that he has committed. His character is a risk-taker who tends to make decisions on a whim and never thinks about the consequences. McAvoy’s performance is respectful to the novel written by Giles Foden, and true to the events the story is based on.
In a turn of events, McAvoy went on to play Wesley in the film Wanted, a character very different to his previous roles. Wesley is recruited by Fox (Angelina Jolie) into a secret society of Assassins, saving him from his mundane life. In this film, McAvoy proves to the audience what he is capable of as an actor. Starring alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie, he reveals new depths to his acting abilities. Wesley undergoes a change throughout the course of the film, starting off dependent and spineless to becoming self-assured and quite frankly, a badass.
Gnomeo and Juliet (2010)
Despite playing kick-ass roles, McAvoy is perfectly capable of returning to family films as he does in Gnomeo and Juliet, where he is the voice of Gnomeo. He continues to act alongside well-known names, such as co-star Emily Blunt, who plays his love interest Juliet. McAvoy turns into a hopeless adorable romantic in this funny spin on Shakespeare’s much loved play, Romeo and Juliet.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
It is not surprising that Fox snapped up McAvoy to star as the young Charles Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past. McAvoy stays true to Patrick Stewart’s performance as the Professor, making him a great asset to the character. Retaining his intelligence, wisdom, and nurturing behaviour towards the other mutants, his one wish is to have peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants. McAvoy has since appeared in the Franchise in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), and we look forward to seeing him in Logan later on this year.
Based on McAvoy’s role in the film Filth you can see why he was the perfect candidate for Split. In this film he plays a morally corrupt Detective Sergeant who is determined to gain a promotion to win back his wife and son. He does this by initiating a series of ‘games’ on his co-workers who get in the way of his aspirations. He is cold and calculated, nasty to everyone around him including his family. His actions lead to dangerous consequences, but he is unable to stop. Controlled by a fierce drug habit, his hold on reality begins to wither and soon finds himself in too deep and this is McAvoy’s most repugnant character to date.