James McAvoy has played a faun (Mr. Tumnus in 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia), the sexy gentleman caller (in the original UK version of Skins), and an empathetic doctor (in Last King of Scotland). He's also shown off his butt onscreen almost as many times as fellow Scotsman Ewan McGregor (although he's never played a relative of his any films so far--what a shame). McAvoy completists probably also know that he's played a couple of gay characters, including a rent boy on the British television drama Murder in Mind as well as Jonathan Harvey's 2001 play, Out in the Open. However, most people adore him these days as young Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men movie franchise.
This month, he stars opposite Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, so audiences will fall in love with him all over again. In Out's October cover story by Paul Flynn, the actor with the sly grin shared some uncensored thoughts on everything from straight actors playing gay characters to Scottish independence. Here's five things we learned.
On why straight actors want to play gay characters now:
"I think actors have always wanted to play those parts. They're just not so bothered now about what those roles might say about their personal lives. It's a nice wee sign of the times."
On how he learned to enjoy the X-Men junket cycle:
"You're sitting in a private helicopter with Michael, flying into Sao Paulo. Patrick Stewart's in the back pretending to control it with his mind. What's not to like?"
On why he loved drama school and wanted to be an actor:
"You come in, kick the doors open, and give them something. That's easier to do in a professional environment after having had three years failing at drama school. Some people love drama school; some people hate it. I took a lot from it."
On whether Scotland should vote for independence:
"I don't mind staying together, and I don't mind splitting up," he says. "but I don't really like either of the parties who've made arguments. I don't trust politicians at the moment. Why suddenly believe them now? Whether it turns out bad or good, you can make the best of independence. But pursuing it with a goal to be richer is fucking pointless. We could be [rich] for four years, but then we might not be. That's what happens. If you look at Ireland, people were willing to fight and die for their fucking independence 100 years ago. Ask any Scotsman who wants independence whether they want to shed blood for it. I don't think they'd say yes."
On why he doesn't give a fuck:
"If a director doesn't want me, that's their fucking loss."
Watch the trailer for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby below: