James McAvoy is tired of playing 'posh English dudes'

James McAvoy in 'Split' (credit: Universal)
James McAvoy in ‘Split’ (Credit: Universal)

Though he’s found international fame as the younger incarnation of Professor Charles Xavier, James McAvoy has apparently had enough of playing “posh English dudes.”

Speaking to The Guardian in promotion of his upcoming role in M Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ – a film which sees him portray a man with dissociative identity disorder, who boasts 23 different personalities (not all of which are posh or English, or even dudes) – the 37-year old actor reflects on how, for a time, he was getting pigeonholed in roles that were “middle-of-the-road,” and – well – English (not that the two need go hand-in-hand, of course).

Indeed, the actor has played well-spoken English characters so often – ‘Atonement,’ ‘Starter for 10,’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ ‘Arthur Christmas,’ ‘Gnomeo and Juliet,’ and of course the ‘X-Men’ movies – that some viewers may not even be aware he’s actually Scottish.

This led McAvoy to seek out edgier material to work with, such as Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance,’ the movie adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s ‘Filth,’ and the upcoming ‘Split.’

James McAvoy as Charles Xavier in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' (credit: 20th Century Fox)
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (credit: 20th Century Fox)

The actor explains, “Even though I’m established, even though I’ve got X-Men behind me and it’s helped me buy my house, I always feel like I need to take a challenge. Sometimes you throw yourself in at the deep end and it just doesn’t work, and it’s a nightmare.

“But the great thing about being an actor is that even if it’s terrible it’s over in two or three months and you move on to the next thing. So what’s the harm in throwing yourself in there? It’s just your reputation.”

‘Split’ certainly sounds like a risky venture, given the disturbing potential of the multiple personality theme, and the fact that McAvoy’s character (or should that be characters?) abducts women.

But as McAvoy argues, “So what if people get a bit shocked by something edgy? There’s just so much pacification in cinema, and I’ve been involved in it at times. I’ve done films that make people fall asleep. So I’m quite keen to push the envelope.”

Hopefully audience members will be wide awake and on the edge of their seats when ‘Split’ opens in UK cinemas on 19 January.

Still, despite his exhaustion with playing posh and English, McAvoy may not be done with the ‘X-Men,’ as it has been strongly rumoured he’ll play Charles Xavier again in ‘The New Mutants,’ expected to shoot later this year.

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