Wanted: James McAvoy Interview
We caught up with Scottish Heart-throb James McAvoy as he gave us the inside gossip on his brand new action movie Wanted. He told us about the dramas of working on this first Hollywood blockbuster, attempts to clear up all those Hobbit rumours and tells us what Angelina Jolie is really like…
LOVEFiLM: It's safe to say that Wanted is a change of pace from the likes of your previous film Atonement?
James McAvoy: It's an incredible change of pace and style, but that was really why I did it. I think when I look for something to do, I ask myself does it challenge me? Does it make me employ a new acting style or is it unusual? This satisfied all those things; but you know, I wasn't certain it was gonna be any more than an action movie straight to DVD. Then I looked at Timur's [Bekmambetov] previous work and I thought this is going to be different - absolutely mental actually - and it made me very very excited to do it.
LF: Did you know what you were letting yourself in for in terms of physical preparation for the role?
JM: I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for; I thought like a 16 year old; 'yeeeeah lets do an action film!' And you think I'll go down the gym that's exciting, 'cos I never go down the gym. So for 6 weeks before we made the film I did that, it was great, loving it. Then about the 5th week in, I'm doing stunts for 12 hours a day; and then going to the gym for 90 minutes a night and I just thought, you know what: stick this!
LF: Have you kept it up?
JM: No not at all. I haven't been to the gym once; I've been to the sauna a couple of times in the last eleven months! I had a really good stunt double though; who made me look far better than I ever would normally. I got to do a fair few bits though I was very lucky.
LF: What were your expectations of the film?
JM: I didn't know exactly what was gonna happen. I knew from watching Nightwatch and Daywatch that I was very excited. It was so clearly not for all the family as well; which is something I've not seen for a little while and I appreciate that as well. I thought there are not many action movies or superhero movies out there catering for just adults at the moment.
LF: Let's talk about your co-star Angelina Jolie. She has done this kind of action film before; was she a great help to you on set?
JM: Yeah she was great. The thing that I really appreciated from Angelina more than anything - 'cos she had lots of tips and lots of advice to do with action - was just taking yourself too seriously. She kinda kept in mind that if you can't have fun when you're making an action movie, then you shouldn't be making an action movie.
LF: Angelina has done her fair share of stunts; did she give you any tips?
JM: I remember one time when we were on top of a train, and having to jump over a bridge and she was going under a bridge. And I was on a big wire that helped me come up but I had to smash through a fence, and you know it had been sawn away, but it was still pretty painful. And I kept saying to her this is pretty painful, and the best piece of advice she gave me was just to shut up and enjoy it! I was just like, 'alright, cool, I will…'
LF: I wonder if a certain degree of male pride kicks in - did you want to match Angelina in those moments as actors?
JM: Oh yeah certainly. There is a scene where my character tried to swing a punch at her and I say I'm going to kick you're fucking ass and swings for her, and that was completely added because I felt completely undermined as a man! So I tried - and I failed to do that and she just beats me up even more.
I think in fight scenes you do two things, you swing punches and you take punches. And swinging punches is fun but for some reason the best part of doing a fight scene is taking a hit and making it look good. And I get a lot of satisfaction out of that so it was kind of the perfect scene for me.
LF: Did you notice any similarities between you and the character you were playing?
JM: No I didn't notice too much in common apart from the fact that I've been unhappy in my life, at times, which we all have. But I think this guy suffers from it chronically and constantly. It's not until his life is threatened that he realises how important his life is to him. I realise how important my life is to me so I don't see too much in common.
I do think that he represents a part of society that is quite new; this kind of guy, he's mid-twenties, even in his early thirties who's got a home, who's got a family, who's got a house and a girlfriend. Life is fine but he can't bring himself to smile, you know what I mean. It's a really interesting place from which to build an anti-hero or a hero; to create someone active from such apathy.
LF: How did you prepare your American accent?
JM: I just listened to different producers, and cast members and crew members and watched lots of films. I usually use a very good voice coach to do American accents but she wasn't available so I didn't want to use any one else.
LF: What did you watch?
JM: Oh god what didn't I watch!
LF: Is the big action film genre something you'd willingly return to?
JM: I think so, but the reason I did this film was to challenge myself and do something different, and to see if I could learn something new. I mean different from Wanted, or different from Atonement. If I get offered variety - I take it.
LF: How does it feel to be rumoured to play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit; is there any truth in that?
JM: Hey, listen, I identify with hobbits more than anybody else! But it's not true by the way, it's all internet rumouring; and nothing else I'm afraid. Sorry.
LF: It's your first big Hollywood blockbuster , do you worry about box-office figures?
JM: Oh not at all, like I say I've been very lucky; hopefully that will continue. A lot of actors are versatile but not every actor gets a chance to show their versatility. If nobody gets to see it but it gets great reviews; I can't lie I'd still be happy. As an actor really that is the most important thing - you want people to like it.
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