By Linda Shortman
I like it when a likeable actor takes on an unlikable character in a film. In Split, James McAvoy does just that — and extremely well — as he portrays a kidnapper with multiple split personalities. Some are menacing, some are sympathetic. However, all are dangerous to the girls he has abducted... some more than others.
He shows his range as an actor by portraying 24 characters, all in the span a single riveting film. With masterful changes in posture, facial expression, and speech patterns, he maneuvers from personality to personality. This is a disturbing thriller that really makes you think.
I have always been impressed with the diversity of roles that McAvoy has excelled in. From romantic films like Atonement and Penelope, to intense films like The Last King of Scotland, Atomic Blonde and Filth. He pays close attention to the character and how his portrayal serves the story. He convincingly plays everything from sinister to sweet. His scowl is as effective as his smile.
The most impressive character I’ve seen him play is Idi Amin’s doctor in The Last King of Scotland. The man is selfish and intense and there is a torture scene he endures that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. As Max in Penelope, he is troubled, but compassionate. Motivated by money, he falls for Penelope in a genuine, sweet way.
Here are five James McAvoy performances that I think are well worth seeing.
During a medical mission in the 1970s, Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan impresses Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and becomes the dictator's personal physician. Garrigan enjoys the perks of his new position, until he becomes aware of Amin's inhumanity.
In this modern-day fairy tale, a young woman cursed with the nose of a pig lives her entire life in seclusion — until an unlikely beau stumbles onto the scene and convinces her to celebrate her inner beauty.
When 13-year-old Briony discovers a lustful letter and witnesses a sexual encounter between her older sister and a servant's son, her confusion prompts her to accuse the young man of a violent crime. Her half-truth changes their lives forever.
Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has revealed 23 personalities to his psychiatrist, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him — as well as everyone around him — as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.
Doormat Wesley Gibson discovers that his recently murdered father — who Wesley never knew — belonged to a secret guild of assassins. After a leather-clad bombshell drafts Wesley into the society, he hones his innate killing skills in this hyperkinetic thriller.
These are just a handful of his films that you should add to your queue. Check out his acting ability in many more movies.