Every time I interview James McAvoy I get the sense that, were I not a journalist recording the conversation, he'd be full of hilarious and frank stories to tell from his years in the entertainment industry. He's an accessible and funny guy to talk to, and you get the sense that he's not beating around the bush to avoid giving you real answers; it's not like he'll give away the ending to X-Men: First Class or anything, but he never seems hesitant or cagey like so many other actors.
Which is why I was bummed when he answered my question about Joe Wright's planned Anna Karenina adaptation by saying he didn't know what was happening with that project. Wright has been very vocal about wanting McAvoy for the film, but it's been unclear if McAvoy's schedule would cooperate; based on what he told me it seems that's still very much up in the air.
Luckily he did tell me a little about what will be his next project, the UK-based crime thriller Welcome to the Punch, and how he chooses between smaller projects like The Conspirator and giant blockbuster mayhem like X-Men: First Class. Check out that excerpt from our interview below, and come back tomorrow for my full conversation with McAvoy about his new Civil War-era film, The Conspirator.
Joe Wright has been very vocal about wanting you Anna Karenina. Any idea if you'll be able to do it?
I don't know at the moment, it's all a bit of-- no, not really. When did he say that?
He was doing Hanna press and said he wanted both you and Saoirse Ronan back in.
Oh, that's nice. No, I don't know what's happening with that at the moment.
I wrote this morning about you taking a role in Welcome to the Punch. Is that totally true?
It's true, I'm going to do that in June or July.
Since that's shooting in the UK, are you using it as a way to come home after running around doing press for X-Men for months?
Kind of. I filmed X-Men in Britain as well. I've only ever actually made one film in America, and that's The Conspirator. I did a week with Wanted in America, and five weeks on X-Men in America, and that's it. It's generally Britain or Europe.
Is there also a desire to make a smaller movie to counterbalance a big movie like X-Men, especially with the sequels looming?
Yeah, of course. I don't think you can just do the big stuff. And if you do just keep doing the big stuff people get bored. But I want to keep working, so you want to diversify and do different things. I just want to do good work, and this is a very exciting script, and a very exciting director, someone I think is exceptionally talented and so impressively invested in his craft and his job. I find that quite infectious.