Exclusive - James McAvoy Extended Interview

January 19, 2017 - Scott Conroy & James McAvoy 01/19/2017 Views: 23,352

"Split" star James McAvoy chats about taking on multiple personalities for his role as a man with dissociative identity disorder in the M. Night Shyamalan film. (6:10)

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Please welcome James McAvoy.

(cheering and applause)

-Welcome, welcome.-Hello.

I have been a fan of yoursfor such a long time.

Thank you so muchfor being on the show.

You're very kind.It's a pleasure to be here.

But I have a boneto pick with you.

-I don't watch scary movies.-Uh-huh.

-That's generally a rule.-Uh-huh.

I watched one, I couldn't sleepfor a while,

bit of a peeing problem.

And then I had to watchthis movie,

and you arepositively terrifying.

Thank you very much,yes, I am.

Uh, yeah. I find thatwhenever I'm--

I-I play one characterin this film who is a lady,

and, uh, and I wear a skirtand high heels,

and I agree with you,

that in itself is terrifying.

-Yeah, y-you don't, you don'tlook very good. -Not that...

-Not meaning that in general,-No, you just didn't

-look good. -Just me in thatlooked really bad.

-Yeah. You did not look good.-Yeah.

With a shaved head and... yeah.

As a childyou were also terrifying.

I think you're just terrifyingas a human being,

-that is what you are.-Thank you. Okay.

But to-to bring peopleup to speed,

like, th-this film is basicallyabout you playing

a person who has suffereda great trauma

and so now they suffer from,basically,

a multiple personality disorder.

-Yeah, dissociative identitydisorder. -Yes.

Which used to be knownas multiple personalities.

Yeah, and-and you are playingin-- I mean, it's--

What is it?The person has 23?

The character has 23personalities, and, uh,

and I-I portray nineof those people

that live plurallywithin one body.

Did you ever--wh-when making the film--

did you ever, like,forget who was who?

Were you ever, like, dressedas a woman and then, like,

talking as a child?Or did you... ?

Um... Kind of like, uh,a sort of psychiatric orgy?

Like, did you mix upthe characters?

Where you don't knowwho's in who?

-And, like...-Yeah, because...

No. No.

No. We respectedeach other's boundaries,

and... and, you know,

it was an inclusive atmosphere.

-I hear you. -Nobody was onthe outside looking in.

But at all timeswe knew who we were with,

-if you know what I mean.-I-I hear you.

Uh, yeah. No, not at all,not at all.

Weirdly, it was really, reallyeasy to keep them separate.

-Partly we tried to do one day,one character. -Oh, okay.

But, um, but I don't know, man.

It was, it was, it was likedoing my job always,

except instead of doing my job,uh, one time,

I did my job nine times,you know?

-Yeah, which makes ita lot harder. -Yeah.

No, there's a, there's a lotof work to get through.

-Nine times more jobis a lot harder. -Yeah.

And you only get paid once.It's very--

You don't get paid nine times,so that kind of sucks.

Oh, you need a better agent,that's what you need.

Oh, you hear thatTeresa and Ruth?

You're getting called out on TV.

But can I say, can I say,honestly, I mean,

you're getting praise, andrightfully so, for this film.

-Thank you.-It-it really is a scary film.

It's an M. Night Shyamalan film,

which means that it twistedinnately.

Like, you're watching the storyand the whole time I'm like,

I know something's gonna twist,I know something's gonna happen.

But what was one ofthe stranger twists for me

is how you got the part.

You were drunk at a bar.

-Uh, yeah, we were... -AndM. Night Shyamalan said what?

Uh, he said... (squeakily):"That's the guy for my movie."

Um, he doesn't really talklike that, by the way. Um...

I want to go back to how areyou... like, what does a person

see in you when you are drunk

-that they think that this isthe perfect person -Uh...

to play someonewho is mentally...


I think...I think he kind of saw, uh,

me being very open and freethat night.

I was particularly,let's say, open and free--

whatever that means. Soundsagain like I'm at an orgy.

Um... uh, we were all therewith the X-Men crowd.

He was therewith his Visit crowd.

He tells this story...We all had little cabanas

at this big, huge entertainmentparty in San Diego.

And, uh, the X-Men tentwas, like, kickin'.

There was, like, 50 peopleall crammed in there.

And he was there promoting The Visit, and--

as he says-- there was,like, four people in there,

and you could hear the cricketsgoing... (chirping).

And, uh...So, we were on our way past,

'cause he wasright beside the place

where you got all the alcohol,which we visited regularly.

And, um... and we were like,

"Hey,that's M. Night Shyamalan!"

He was like,"Ah, you're that guy...

James McAvoy. That's it."

And, uh...and I had a bald head,

and he kind of got captivatedby that.

And I think he thought he'dnever seen me like that before,

and there was something about,um...

Actually, seriously,there was something about me

with a bald head that made himthink, "Maybe my characters

-"in this film shouldn't begoing wigs and glasses -Yeah.

"and hats and makeupand all that. Blank palette.

"A blank... a blank canvasfor the audience to imprint

upon the actor,rather than us dishin' it out."

And-and then he thought,"Well, why not, you know...

"This isn'tjust the right actor--

it's also the right haircut."

And that's why he went for me.

There-there were... there weretruly some-some amazing things

that I learned from this moviethat I didn't know were true.

For instance, a personwho suffers from this disorder

can take on diseasesfor different personalities.

-Or-or like, let's say,for instance, -Yeah.

a personality disorder can...one disorder could have...

one personalitycan have diabetes,

-and the bodyactually has diabetes. -Yeah.

Yeah, no, there's-there's beendocumented instances of that

and-and peoplewho have allergies,

like anaphylactic responseto a bee sting,

another personality that livesplur-plurally within that body

can get stung by a beeand they're completely fine.

Uh, whilst the other personwill need an EpiPen

or a visit to hospital,unless they might...

-in case they might die. Uh...-That is insane.

Yeah, there's been... Th-Thiswoman... We talk about it

in the film, actually,a woman in Germany who-who's...

O-One of the personalitieswas blind--

her eyes completely unresponsiveto any kind of stimulus.

Um, not just... not just even...(sighs)

uh, m-mentally blind,

where she thoughtshe couldn't see anything.

Her eyes literallywould not physically work.

Um, but, as another personality,she could see.

This is... Here-Here's my thingthat I've always wanted to know

with M. Night Shyamalan.Everything is a twist.

Like, as a person, is that him?Like, does he invite you over

to his house and he's like,"Come over for dinner,"

and then when you sit down, he'slike, "Surprise. Breakfast"?

Is that...Is he that kind of person?


I would really like that.

(stammers) The ultimate onewould be, like,

he gets... he gives you a joband you're like, "Yeah,"

and you get on the plane,you come to Philly,

and you get to Phillyand he's like, "Surprise!

I hired somebody else."

Dude, thank you so muchfor being here. I'm a huge fan

-of yours. Split is in theatersFriday, January 20. -Thank you.

James McAvoy, everybody.

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