Scottish actor James McAvoy, who has starred in Filth, Wanted and The Last King Of Scotland, will reprise his role as the young Professor Charles Xavier in upcoming sequel X-Men: Days Of Future Past.
The 35-year-old, who has a young son with actress wife Anne-Marie Duff, talks about returning to the X-Men fold alongside co-stars Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Hoult, and meeting his older counterpart Sir Patrick Stewart, ahead of the film's release on May 22
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE NEW X-MEN FILM?
Its epicness really. It's on a huge scale, not just visually and emotionally, but character-wise and relationship-wise, it's quite epic. What we all go through is incredible.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT X-MEN?
It's based on human strife. Most superheroes have super problems but the X-Men have very human problems and we can relate to them. They're being ghettoised, they're being punished for being different and you can relate that to so many people in the world.
WERE THERE DOUBTS ABOUT A SEQUEL?
The last film was a reboot, so it felt like a risk in lots of ways. If it doesn't really work, then there's less invested in it financially and also, commitment from the studios. I wasn't really counting my chickens. I thought, if I just did one, that'll be fine. But it did really well and they had the idea of amalgamating both casts from the previous films and that has just been incredible. Because not only does it take pressure off me and Michael, which is great, it also just makes the film more of what it is. More is more, and this is more.
WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE SEQUEL?
I'm signed on for three, so whether I like it or not, I'm supposed to do the second and third. I'm lucky I'm in a position where I'm getting to work with good people and this is something I would choose to do, even if I had the choice. They generally sign you up for three these days.
SO WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR CHARLES IN THE THIRD FILM, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE?
In my head, it was always about showing a very different Charles in the first movie. He's very vulnerable and messed up in this one - so he's very different to how he is in the first movie, but he's still very different from Patrick's portrayal and who he will become.
So in the third movie, he's got to start being like Patrick's performance. Unless they want to make eight more, then I can string it out a bit! If they are going to do a third one, and I don't know if they will, they would need to tie up his position because I've had lots of fun playing against people's expectations of Charles but ultimately you have to respect what he ends up being. Unless we do alternate timelines and he actually becomes a different person, which is fine because the comic books do that.
It's all open but in my head, it was always moving towards a more candid portrayal.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING FACE-TO-FACE WITH SIR PATRICK STEWART?
He's like a slightly less good actor than me, so it feels great working with him. Because it makes you feel like a better actor, and you know you're going to come out having won the scene... I'm only joking. It was lovely actually. I've been a big fan of him and the Star Trek films for years. When Next Generation came out, it rejuvenated that whole sci-fi and Star Trek passion. He was incredible as Jean-Luc Picard, so much gravitas, so much weight, so much authority and nobility, so to put our two considerable conks in profile together was really an honour.
IF YOU COULD MAKE A SEQUEL TO ANY OF YOUR OTHER FILMS, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
I had some good ideas for Wanted 2 but I don't think they were that interested in them. I had a really cool opening sequence in my head. I'd quite like to make a sequel to Filth. That'd be cool just because I loved playing that guy. And just for my own personal interest, I'd quite like to know what Nicholas Garrigan from The Last King Of Scotland is up to 10 years later. Not that that film needs a sequel but I'd just like to know what happens to him. It's probably messed up his life a bit. He's probably doing something really naughty.
:: James McAvoy was speaking at the official naming of the new Virgin Trains X-Men: Days Of Future Past train, as part of Virgin Trains' partnership with the new blockbuster. X-Men: Days Of Future Past opens in cinemas on May 22