James McAvoy - Taking On Nine Different Personalities for One Role in "Split"

January 19, 2017 - Scott Conroy & James McAvoy 01/19/2017 Views: 3,550

James McAvoy, star of the film "Split," describes how he approached his role as a man with dissociative identity disorder and talks about working with M. Night Shyamalan. (4:16)

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Please welcome James McAvoy.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

-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 sleep for 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. Um...

Uh, yeah.I find that whenever 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 men in that in general,-No, you just didn't

-just me in that lookedreally bad. -look good. 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. -Dis... 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 has23 personalities, and, uh...

and I-I portray nineof those people

that live plurallywithin one body.

D-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 a-a sort of-Like, did you mix up

-psychiatric orgy?-the characters?

-Yeah. -Where you don't knowwho's in who and...

-Yeah, because...-No. No.

No. We respectedeach other's boundaries,

um... 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 like doingmy 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 that,Theresa 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.

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

There were trulysome-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.