Scotsman McAvoy hits Hollywood action with "Wanted"

Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:54pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Scottish actor James McAvoy bursts onto Hollywood's blockbuster movie scene on Friday with his new film "Wanted," but don't expect the actor best known for art-house cinema to start playing the part of a Tinseltown superstar.

McAvoy portrays a buff assassin in the high-tech action thriller, but gives credit to his stunt double for making him look cool. He squirms when asked about kissing co-star Angelina Jolie and delights in his character's panic attacks.

"The perfect condition for an actor to have to portray," he told Reuters.

After breakthrough roles in a pair of award-winning dramas aimed at art houses -- "The Last King of Scotland" and "Atonement" -- the 29-year-old said "Wanted," which is adapted from a violent comic book series, spoke to his inner boy.

"I got to satisfy the 16-year-old boy's yearning to break things and jump up and down and beat people up," McAvoy told Reuters. "It was a very physical film and I had to get fit and go to the gym, which I don't really enjoy."

McAvoy's character Wesley is a sloped-shoulder slacker who wallows in the misery of a cubicle-bound job, an overbearing boss and a cheating girlfriend.

Then Fox (Jolie) shows up to tell Wes that greater things await him: he must take over for his long-lost father, killed while working for the Fraternity, a centuries-old league of supersensory assassins.

Fox and Fraternity leader Sloane (Morgan Freeman) whip Wesley into shape by beating him nearly to death so he can avenge his father's death. The beatings are brutal, as is the emotional toll on Wesley, and McAvoy said he had to dip into his reserves to pull it all off.   Continued...

<p>Scottish actor James McAvoy poses during a photocall to present his new film 'Wanted' in Berlin June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Johannes Eisel</p>