"The script is written for a type of acting that requires you to not emote, to not show everything," he notes. "If you watch Noel Coward, he doesn't move his face. He hardly uses his voice, but he's so expressive you know exactly what he's thinking. The same with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 'Brief Encounter.' " But, he stresses, it's not just about doing nothing for the camera. "You can have a lot of stuff going on underneath, but the suppression of it increases the power of it."
Before shooting, Wright corralled his actors for three weeks of rehearsal that McAvoy says was the best he's experienced outside theater. "We figured out what the script was all about. I know that sounds really basic, but it's not," he says. "It galvanized us."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, December 04, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
James McAvoy: An article in Sunday's Calendar section about actor James McAvoy said he received an Oscar nomination this year for "The Last King of Scotland." He was not nominated.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, December 09, 2007 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
James McAvoy: An article last Sunday about actor James McAvoy said he received an Oscar nomination this year for "The Last King of Scotland." He was not nominated.
During the filming of a country house segment at Stokesay Court in Shropshire, Wright, Knightley and the majority of the cast lived together, though McAvoy chose to stay elsewhere. "Partly because I felt a little bit too old for that, but also because my character's kind of separate and I wanted to keep myself a little bit separate. I'm not somebody who uses the whole Method thing, but it felt nice to keep myself away from the big house and all the people playing the posh people. To be honest, all those actors were posh actors, so it felt quite useful."
The word is that "Atonement" will make McAvoy a star, although he's not sure he wants to be one. "I didn't have any plan when I started doing this," he says when the issue is raised. "I certainly didn't do it to be famous, and I certainly didn't do it because I wanted to be in the movies. I wanted to do it because it was good fun, and nobody told me I couldn't."
Although his next role, as an assassin in the comic book adaptation "Wanted" opposite Angelina Jolie, looks to be a markedly different one for him -- that of the action hero -- McAvoy insists it's business as usual -- playing someone, well, normal. "It's going back to something that's easier for me to do than 'Atonement' was. I'm playing a proper, insecure, normal dude. They didn't give me the part straight away. They offered it to a dozen other guys and eventually came back to me because they realized this part doesn't work if it's the classic leading man type figure. This part needs to have somebody a bit more normal."