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The One To Watch: James McAvoy

The One To Watch: James McAvoy

To prepare for his role in the new film The Last King of Scotland, James McAvoy did nothing–well, close to nothing, which is what the film’s director, Kevin Macdonald, wanted. McAvoy plays Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a fictional adviser and personal physician to the real-life murderous and bizarre former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin (played in the film by Forest Whitaker).

Based on the 1998 novel by British journalist Giles Foden and set in the ’70s, the movie follows Garrigan as the young doctor at first becomes part of the dictator’s trusted inner circle and then struggles to get out alive. “Kevin wanted me to be as naive as possible. We took that to the extreme: The only real research I did was medical research,” says the 27-year-old McAvoy, who exudes a natural bonhomie as Garrigan, a trait that takes on horrific connotations as his character turns a blind eye to Amin‘s increasing abuses of power. “[The '70s] were a much more innocent time in terms of what we understood about world politics and what was happening in places like Uganda,” he explains. “I think Nicholas represents a microcosm of the West-Britain certainly: You know, go in, **** it up, leave with a bit of extra cash.”

Raised in Glasgow, McAvoy was working as a baker and considering joining the navy when he was accepted to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. After graduation, he moved to London (“It was a very crowded rooming situation-I lived with five people and a Chihuahua”) and landed a small part in the HBO World War II miniseries Band of Brothers (2001). He followed that with television appearances, played the title role in Rory O’Shea Was Here (2004). and achieved widespread industry recognition with the Christmas fantasia, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He’s currently working on several upcoming films including Atonement, the big-screen adaptation of Ian McEwan‘s international best-selling novel, in which he’ll star opposite Keira Knightley. “I like constantly being challenged,” says McAvoy. “The process of storytelling has to change every time. Your understanding of storytelling has to change every time. I really believe you should never act in the same way twice because every story demands its own unique style.”

Above :: James McAvoy wears a coat by DIOR HOMME BY HEDI SLiMANE. Leslie Cafferty wrote about Caroline Dhavernas in the September issue. Above: James McAvoy wears a coat and sweater by BURBERRY PRORSUM. Pants by DOLCE AND GABBANA. Skin products by DERMALOGICA. Hair products by NICKEL. Fragrance: BURBERRY BRIT FOR MEN. Styling: JAMES SLEAFORD/ Ellison Lee. Grooming: ADIE HANNAH/Soho Management.

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  • Stephanie

    I first saw James in the Children of Dune miniseries, one of my fave movies. Great choice for Leto Atreides II.

  • macheath

    OMG. I am so happy to finally see this guy here! I’ve been a James fan for a while, and I think he’s just so adorable, charming and above all things TALENTED. I’ve been waiting so long for The Last King of Scotland (which looks amazing), and Penelope and Starter for Ten are bound to be amazing, and I cannot not mention freaking ATONEMENT with Keira Knightley and the beautiful Romola Garai.

    With his looks and skills, he truly is the “the one to watch”

  • Donna A.

    I saw him in the movie Bright Young Things. I have to admit he was very good. Even though movie it’s self was okay.
    Donna A.

  • shia_fan

    i cannot wait for atonement…

  • robcee4ever

    I love him. He’s such a great actor especially he’s film Atonement. I hope he’ll have an Oscar Nod.

    Why are you crying?
    Don’t you know?
    Yes, I know exactly.