James McAvoy

McAvoy travels to the depths of his emotions in Submergence a movie suffocated by an unforgiving narrative structure directed by Wim Wenders. Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy somehow rise above the lackluster film they’re sunk into. 

Based on J.M. Ledgard’s novel of the same name and adapted by screenwriter Erin Dignam, the film revels parallels between time periods and points of view, the film opens with Vikander, a professor and scientist obsessed with the literal bottom of the ocean, who is embarking on the biggest journey of her career, but just can’t seem to care about it because the man she loves won’t answer her phone calls.

Things only get more strange when McAvoy actual location is revealed. The film represents the romantic idea of surrendering to the maximum and, in doing so, changing the world and altering everything around us. The romance plays bottom between Alicia Vikander and McAvoy in this cinematographic portrait of the love  from the camera of Wenders. Submergence descends to the precipice of feelings, jihad madness, the unknown and makes us analyze each vortex of the triangle. Its film, of a great beauty, confirms to the protagonists like two of the actors with more erotic load of the present time. 

James McAvoy is an actor dedicated to his characters, his nomadic way of life, a way of living in which he does not fear to speak without language. Not long ago he said that the dominance of wealthy actors in the UK "is damaging society." The Scottish, who paid for his career at the drama school working in a bakery, puts his grain of sand into the debate over English upper-class performers, a controversy that has been stirring in recent times.

Separated from his wife of a decade, Anne-Marie Duff, McAvoy now lives between Los Angeles and the UK with her new partner. In Toronto we had the opportunity to speak with one of the most authentic interpreters present in  Hollywood. 

Q: Had Submergence had to be a terrible physical experience?

A: Horrible, I had a terrible time because I had to lose a lot of weight between the middle of the film and the end, and I'm not a man who is overweight and during the filming in Normandy try to win something so that it would make a difference and more obvious that he had lost weight. That was pretty hard because I had to lose weight without doing it stepwise. In the past I've shot movies where I had to lose weight for Trans with Dany Boyle and it hit me because I discovered that it's not something that I enjoy. In this film, as I knew I was going to be irritated, I tried to enjoy my time in Normandy with Alicia and then we went together to Spain. 

Q: Do you speak Spanish?

A: I’m able to keep myself aware of what is happening around me. My conversation level is not bilingual but I can speak, or at least I think I can (laughs) 

Q: Have you read Spanish authors?

A: Yes. I like to keep update with what’s going on in literature. I do read short stories like from Borges or Bolaño or Bioy Casares and beside that I love Spanish movies from Buñuel to Pedro Almodovar. Spain is a beautiful country 

Q: You are considered an adventurer, a being able to get to the depths of his being by another person

A: To a certain extent, once I said that I wanted to be a missionary and that interview was chasing me for years. I do not want to repeat the experience (he laughs). When my son was born, I was talking to many nurses who had been in Africa and it seemed to me that their work, saving lives, was wonderful. That is what I meant. As far as being adventurous, the profession of actor fits in the profile because we spend the time traveling. That amuses me, to live here and there, to work from one side to another of the planet, to know cultures, to learn. When I started at 17 I had no idea that I could end up where I am now. I got into drama school in Glasgow and stayed there for three years without leaving that building in three years, but in doing so, I became an adventurer because in that place I could build dreams and travel with my imagination. I realized that my life as an actor, I would be allowed to live adventures regardless of the location. 

Q: Enjoy the emotional load of an actor's life

A:Of course. We are always on the verge of failure, always judged severely; or you're a virtuoso or a fucking idiot, with no space between those two concepts. For me, all that is exciting 

Q: When you film in exotic places, do you have time to explore?

A: No. When I go to work, I do not go on vacation. The holidays I'm going to take now, I have two months free. I have to force myself to move from my state of permanent curiosity to a state of relaxation that allows me to enjoy my vacations. It costs me more to be doing nothing than working. When I shoot a movie I have access to people, to the community and that allows me to observe them in another way. 

Q: Were you able to relax and enjoy at some point in Spain

A: Yes, of course. By nature, I'm not a nerve-wracking person. And, the truth, the shooting in Spain was sensational. The hotels, the crew, the food all was spectacular

Q: You emerge as a new sex symbol for your generation.

A: I do not think so. The truth, I do not know if someone considers me an erotic symbol because it does not cross my mind. I do not get up in the morning thinking, "How sexy I am today." And, by the way, I have not yet met anyone who treats me like I'm a sex simbol  so I cannot feel as one. I'm not convinced by the title 

Q: Do you keep taking care of yourself physically, for the pleasure of staying in shape

A: Not at all. I have not been back to the gym since I finished the movie, I went to the sauna a couple of times in eleven months I am quite lazy and I do not like anything to exercise 

Q: You have interpreted all kinds of film genres from drama to action and fantasy Where are you most at ease?

A: The truth is I do not know if I feel a preference for any. 

: Who were the heroes of your teenage years?

A: I was a sophisticated twelve-year-old boy fascinated with James Bond and the spies. I guess I get influenced by Sean Connery, an illustrious Scottish 

Q: How was the shoot with Win Wenders?

A: Sensational. I had to let myself be guided by his vision, which seemed articulate and very intelligent. This is a philosophical film, intentionally romantic, sensual. It is the story of a couple of scientists, each in a different field, who falls in love. Their conversations, for moments, are academic, they do not fall in love with a smile, but of their intelligence. It struck me as these two people fall in love on many levels, not just in the physical aspect, that too. We were all in Normandy, exploring the characters, rehearsing before shooting. Win is a wonderful guy. 

Q: You are very close friends with Michael Fassbender, and you knew Alicia because she is his betrothed. Is it not rare to share intimate scenes with the girlfriend of one of your best friends?

A: No, I do not think so. I was married for nine years and filmed many romantic scenes at that time. In this profession we have to make many sequences of love with other people, it is part of the work. Anyway, it was not weird for me, maybe for her, but I hope not. I tried not to feel strange rolling with me 

Q: You said that this character resembles you, what did you mean in particular?

A: Let's say I did not feel like playing a role, that character could have been me if my lifestyle had been different and I would have chosen that job. Of course, he is not like me, he has lived experiences that I will never be able to live, however, inside, he is much more like me than any of the other characters I have played in my career.


Maria Estévez

Correspondent Writer