“I feel that’s something I’ll never achieve”: James McAvoy Was Sh*t-Scared To Play Eminem in $342M Angelina Jolie Comic Book Movie
James McAvoy is no stranger to starring in comic book movies and has often played major characters. In addition to his role as Professor X in the X-Men films, he co-starred with Angelina Jolie in the film Wanted. But there was a time when McAvoy feared he was attempting an impossible task: playing Eminem.
McAvoy’s character was inspired by the son of a super-assassin and supervillain in the graphic novel adaptation of Wanted. McAvoy was shocked to see how similar the supervillain in the graphic novel looked to Eminem when he read it before his screen test.
When James McAvoy Learnt about His Character
In an interview with Comics Continuumm James McAvoy expressed his shock upon learning that he could potentially play Eminem.
“I read the script, and then before I flew out to the screen test, I was sent the graphic novel as well. Which totally freaked me out because I opened in, and on page one went, ‘What? Eminem? Are you having a laugh? Am I going to be playing that?’ I just couldn’t quite understand. And I thought, well, I’m not going to be going in doing an impression of Eminem.”
James McAvoy didn’t see any resemblance to Eminem in the script for Wanted. The rapper was surprised when he was sent the graphic novel before his screen test and discovered that the supervillain had been drawn to look just like him.
McAvoy was initially terrified at the prospect of playing a character so obviously based on Eminem’s likeness, but he eventually got over it. But he admitted that portraying a character so closely linked to a real person was a special challenge for him as an actor.
James McAvoy Recounts Challenges of Playing The Part
The son of a super-assassin inspired the character played by McAvoy in Wanted; however, in the source material, he was also a supervillain. The villain was supposed to resemble Eminem, which presented a special challenge for McAvoy.
In a recently rediscovered interview with Superhero Hype, McAvoy said that it was “difficult” to play the part because “the character has been based so obviously, at least visually, on Eminem”
“It’s difficult because the character has been based so obviously, at least visually, on Eminem, I feel like I need to get away from that because I feel that’s something I’ll never achieve. I feel that I’d like to take the essence of what [Mark Millar’s] done and fill it. What else a live-action thing does, as opposed to a comic, is that there’s some things that really work well in the translation and some things that don’t.”
Instead of trying to imitate Eminem’s appearance, McAvoy played the role by getting to the heart of what the character stood for. It was a smart choice, as McAvoy’s performance as the lead won over critics and moviegoers alike.
Before Wanted debuted in theaters, rumors circulated that Eminem was close to being cast in the film. However, someone in Eminem’s camp denied his involvement in the project. Understandably, McAvoy would be nervous about playing Eminem in Wanted.
Playing a cultural icon like Eminem would be a huge challenge for any actor. McAvoy overcame his apprehension and gave a performance that will be long remembered.