James Andrew McAvoy (born 21 April 1979) is a Scottish stage and screen actor.
McAvoy was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Elizabeth, a psychiatric nurse, and James McAvoy, a builder. McAvoy's parents divorced when he was seven, and he subsequently lived with his maternal grandparents, Mary and James Johnstone, in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow. His mother lived with them intermittently but McAvoy has not been in contact with his father since childhood.
McAvoy attended St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary in Jordanhill, Glasgow, a Catholic school, and briefly considered joining the Catholic priesthood. During his education he worked at a local bakery. He was a member of PACE Youth Theatre before he eventually graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000. His sister, Joy McAvoy, is a singer.
McAvoy's first roles were in David Hayman's The Near Room in 1995 and then as Anthony Balfour in Pat Barker's Regeneration in 1997. He received his first big break with a role in the Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries Band of Brothers.
His first international starring role was as Leto Atreides II in the 2003 Sci Fi Channel miniseries Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. The same year he also appeared in several episodes of the BBC sitcom Early Doors and co-starred in Paul Abbott's acclaimed thriller serial State of Play. In 2004, he starred as Steve McBride in another Abbott-written drama series, Shameless on Channel 4, for which he was nominated for the British Comedy Award for Best TV Newcomer. In 2005, he starred in three productions: he played Ben in the Royal Court Theatre's production Breathing Corpses and an adaptation of Macbeth in the four-part BBC production ShakespeaRe-told; he also portrayed Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, in The Chronicles of Narnia, and Max/Johnny-2008 in Penelope.
In 2006, McAvoy starred alongside Forest Whitaker as Dr. Garrigan in The Last King of Scotland. The film is an adaptation of Giles Foden's novel of the same name and gives a fictionalized account of the regime of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin during the 1970s, as seen by his (fictional) personal physician and adviser. The character of Garrigan is a composite of several men who were close to Amin, most notably Englishman Bob Astles, who was a top adviser to Amin during his regime and became known in Uganda as "The White Rat". That same year, McAvoy took the lead role in Starter for 10. The film, which was adapted from the novel of the Starter for Ten by David Nicholls, follows the exploits of the nerdy Brian Jackson as he navigates his first year at Bristol University during the mid-1980s. McAvoy won the new Mary Selway/Orange Rising Star Award at the 2006 BAFTA Awards for his role. He also completed filming of Penelope in 2006, but due to distribution problems the film was not put in wide release until 2008.
In 2007 McAvoy appeared in two critically acclaimed films: Becoming Jane, a fictional romance inspired by the life of Jane Austen, and Atonement, an adaptation of Ian McEwan's award-winning 2001 novel. McAvoy was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in Atonement. During this time he workshopped scenes for the film Three Way Split for directors Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger, but will not take part in the actual film.
McAvoy's latest film, Wanted, was released on 25 June 2008. Loosely based on the comic book miniseries by the same name, McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson, his co-star was Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. McAvoy appear in the film - The Last Station, worldwide release in Spring 2009. The film is based on the 1990 novel by Jay Parini about the final year of Leo Tolstoy's life, and co-stars McAvoy's wife, Anne-Marie Duff. Also in 2009, he will return to the stage in a revival of Three Days of Rain at the Apollo Theater in London's West End.
He has been reportedly tapped to play Bilbo Baggins, the lead role in the new movie version of The Lord Of The Rings prequel The Hobbit but has denied he has been cast in the role at this point. It is also rumoured that he will be playing Kurt Cobain in the film version of Heavier Than Heaven.
McAvoy previously dated Scottish actress Emma Nielsen (stage name Emma King); they began dating when he was 16 and broke up in 2003. He married actress Anne-Marie Duff in 2006. They live in London. He enjoys science fiction and is a fan of Celtic Football Club. He considers himself a spiritual person but no longer practices Catholicism.