James McAvoy talks WANTED

     December 7, 2007

Yesterday I participated in a small roundtable interview with James McAvoy for his new movie “Atonement” (which is great by the way).In the next few days I’ll have a full transcript posted, but until I finish it, I wanted to post what he said about his next movie “Wanted.”

In case you didn’t know, Universal just announced that they were moving “Wanted” from it’s original release date of March 28thto the heart of the summer – Friday, June 27th. While most movies push their release date due to problems, I think this isthe case of a studio realizing they have something special. After all, June 27th is a major box office weekend… especially with the 4th of July holiday right around the corner. You wouldn’t move a movie there unless you know it can compete.

Anyway, I think the move makes sense. You have a cool concept, a great up and coming actor (James McAvoy), and one of the biggest movie stars of the planet – Angelina Jolie. Also that image of her on the car firing a gun is going to sell tickets, even if people don’t know the plot.

So if you want to know what James said about the move to the summer and working with Angelina…read below. He also talks about how he got the part.

Question: I was going to ask you they announced yesterday that they’ve moved “Wanted” from late March to the end of June. It’s now all of a sudden positioned as one of Universal’s big summer releases.

James McAvoy: Yeah I know.

Q: Does this come as a surprise to you and are you ready to be a big summer movie star here in the States?

James McAvoy: Bloody hell. Is that what that means? I don’t know really. I didn’t know the significance of moving it. When people say June—we’re going to June—we’re really excited we’re going June. You know like great, that’s great for you and then people explain the significance of it. So fantastic if they’re confident in it it’s brilliant. I haven’t seen the film yet so I don’t know.

Q: Couldn’t it almost be expected though when you’re do a film with Angelina that they would you know do something with it special?

James McAvoy: Not if it’s terrible. So it’s nice. I think March can really… some people are telling me is that’s the new kind of…that’s the new hot time to release a movie and I don’t know really because it seems like every time is a hot time to release a movie now. It’s like real estate or it’s the up and coming area. Every where’s up and coming. I don’t think there’s a bad time to release a movie anymore you know. So if they’re moving up to a more high class date or a more aggressive time then great. It just means they’re confident, but no I think a big studio like that with hundreds of millions of dollars. They’d gladly chuck it on the shelf if it were shit.

Q: Speaking of choosing your parts, what happens when a big Universal Studios comic book movie comes your way?

James McAvoy: You accept it.

Q: Is that how it happened?

James McAvoy: Again, I have to audition for that. I screen tested. They flew me over here and I had to do a couple of auditions and then they didn’t give me the part for quite a long time—for like 6 months then they came back and said do you want to do it and I was like what’s changed? They said “nothing. We always wanted you”. You’re like, ”did you?” So, yeah.

Q: The trailer looks really amazing. Did you think about those sort of John Woo gun poses while you were doing it?

James McAvoy: No, I didn’t actually. To be honest with you I don’t really watch…I watch action films if they’ve got sci-fi in them or fantasy in them or you know something like that. I don’t really watch the John Woo type action film where it’s just action. I like it when it’s tinged with concept or tinged with philosophy or something like that which this film is. And it’s also tinged with a manic, mad, weird, brilliant, genius director called Timur Bekmambetov who’s a very strange guy. When he makes an odd decision, he doesn’t make it strategically, you know what I mean? He doesn’t go I’m going to make a really cool, odd, left field, off beat decision here and that’s going to mark me out as an ingenious director. He just makes decisions that happen to be really fucking strange and people around him inform him that they’re strange and he goes really? That’s interesting and then carries on, you know. It gives that style that he has a truth I think about something real.

Q: Could you talk about the challenges of working with someone who’s such in the limelight? I’m talking about Ms. Jolie.

James McAvoy: I think working with Keira and Angelina actually 2 of the world’s biggest stars is quite an eye opener that kind of intrusion that happens in your life’s and the scrutiny they’re under and how difficult it must be for them definitely. I think it’s undeniable. Other than that I didn’t get an insight to any of their lives too much. I did get an insight into how much is made up and how much is false. 99.999999% of it is seems to be bullshit and it’s quite harming I think because it robs you of your identity. The world thinks you are something and you’re not that and it’s odd.

Q: Isn’t it weird though—not weird but isn’t it a challenge for you because you’re starting to enter into this bigger Hollywood arena of big budget films, it’s possibly going to happen to you as well.

James McAvoy: I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to the point where people run across a freeway to take a picture of me. I really don’t see it getting to that level of hysteria unless I have an affair with the Queen of Sweden or something like that. I don’t think they have a Queen in Sweden—I think they do—yeah, they do don’t they? Lovely girl… but you know. So who knows? I try to keep my life low key and I don’t like going to parties unless they’re thrown by a friend of mine or they’re to do with a project I’m in or it’s because I’ve been nominated for an award. Then I’ll go to the parties and do all that, but I won’t go to the latest Samsung free phone exhibition, you know what I mean? You stay away from all that and hopefully gives you the chance to stay away and opt out of it a little bit.

Q: Are you going to make it a point to choose another smaller film after “Wanted”?

James McAvoy: I’ve never made strategic decisions and I refuse to. I’ll do what feels right and whatever comes along and I like the idea of it, I’ll do it. You know, it’s like Joe—after he did “Pride and Prejudiced” people said to him you should do a small independent modern contemporary piece that isn’t based on a book and he didn’t and it’s worked out fine for him. You know what I mean? I think good work is good work.

Q: How has the writer’s strike affected you?

James McAvoy: Not at all. Oh no, it did actually. It did actually. It has affected me slightly. A project I wanted to get going this year has to wait until the end of the year I think or maybe the beginning of next. The end of next year or the beginning of 2009.

Q: Which project was that?

James McAvoy: I’m not telling.

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