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Where One Man Has Gone Before

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McAvoy and Fassbender in X-Men: First Class.  

McAvoy, 32, the son of a roofer and a nurse, still carries a blue-collar chip on his shoulder: a mix of envy, determination, and fear. “Fear is really powerful; it’s really useful to me,” he says of the nerves he still gets on set. “Posh actors, they don’t have that raw, fucking terrified thing behind the eyes. It comes from a different level of self-confidence, or entitlement.” McAvoy appreciates pragmatism most of all. “I fucking love reasonable people,” he says, including his workmanlike co-star Fassbender in that category. “I’m instinctively very suspicious and guarded, and I try to counteract it so much. I find reason allows you to be open, and my only sort of ambition in life is to try and be as open as possible.” This philosophy stops just short of the media. McAvoy avoids, whenever possible, any event with paparazzi, as well as questions about politics and about his 40-year-old wife, actress Anne-Marie Duff, and their 1-year-old son. “You’ve got an apartment in Rio? A tent in Peckham? And you’re from London?” McAvoy says, mocking gabbier actors. “Like, how do you fucking live? Brilliant, I love it. But I couldn’t do it.”

Yet McAvoy has little choice but to hope that fame becomes a bigger problem for him this summer. He’s never attempted to carry a blockbuster. “We were not going to make $500 million on Wanted because it was R-rated because we said ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and killed a lot of people—and I got to hide behind Angelina in terms of marketing,” he says. “In Narnia, I was only playing a small part, so I didn’t really give a shit if it did well or not, because it wasn’t my fault. X-Men has got to work,” says McAvoy, who’s contractually obligated to be the face of the franchise. “I’m signed up for two more—if this one makes money. If it doesn’t, I’m sure we’ll be doing none more.”


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