James McAvoy has pledged £125,000 to help aspiring actors follow in his footsteps. The
BAFTA-winning actor is funding a 10-year scholarship programme at his
former drama school, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). (x)
James McAvoy bounds into a London hotel room in prizefighting form, sporting a tightly shorn noggin, jeans and T-shirt, and the kind of buff body definition you might expect to find on a downtime welterweight champ. I nod to the bod, and he admits, straightaway, that he’s been powerlifting in the gym on a regular basis. “It’s f***ing brilliant, I love it, man!” says the 37-year-old X-Men star, beaming. He tells me he joined forces with a professional powerlifter on the set of his last movie (the thriller Split, for Sixth Sense director M Night Shyamalan). “I never thought I would be into that s***. But it’s so much fun, really technical, and quite Zen.”
He sits down and pours himself some water. This, somewhat unusually, is our fifth encounter in as many years. Over that half-decade it has been remarkable and informative to watch McAvoy’s transformation from quip-cracking Glaswegian wiseacre (joshing about the “epic snog” he shared with Angelina Jolie on the movie Wanted) to serious London stage actor (he won an Evening Standard best actor award last year for his role in The Ruling Class) and Hollywood heavyweight — he’s got three big movies on the way, including X-Men Apocalypse, Split and a romance for German master Wim Wenders called Submergence.
I just see
tons of people in my city who are so vastly intelligent, who because they have
this ingrained humility, it gets in the way of them expressing themselves and
showing how brilliant they are. What drama can do, especially with young
people, is it can break through that. And it can give them the tools to walk
into a room and express themselves and show them off to the best of their
ability, whether they’re going to become actors or directors or whatever it is
they’re going to become.