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Top 10 James McAvoy Performances

Credits: Sean Harris
Written by JJ Heaton He’s a darling of the UK acting scene, but on screen he can be anything but. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 James McAvoy Performances. For this list, we’ll be taking a look at the finest performances in the career of Scottish actor James McAvoy - including his roles on film, TV and stage. Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, FALLENSTONE, makaylawilliams14, Sarah Mcguinness, offbeat08 and Lilljoniz for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 James McAvoy Performances


He’s a darling of the UK acting scene, but on screen he can be anything but. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 James McAvoy Performances.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at the finest performances in the career of Scottish actor James McAvoy - including his roles on film, TV and stage.

#10: David Percival
“Atomic Blonde” (2017)

First off, McAvoy plays a station chief gone rogue in this action thriller, starring Charlize Theron. Duplicitous and unhinged, Percival makes for both a vital ally and a bothersome obstacle for Theron’s icy MI6 agent, and McAvoy does a fine job of providing some much-needed comic relief whilst still posing a believable threat. Theron may steal the show with her impressive action scenes, but McAvoy is top notch supporting talent.

#9: Brian Jackson
“Starter for 10” (2006)

Rom-coms seem a must-have on most British acting CVs, and McAvoy has a few under his belt. This 2006 film, where McAvoy plays a student caught between two women whilst taking part in the game show “University Challenge”, is probably the best of the lot. McAvoy proves a good fit for the intelligent and bright-eyed Brian, and his chemistry with both Alice Eve and Rebecca Hall makes this tale of adolescent love sweet and relatable.

#8: Steve McBride
“Shameless” (2004-2013)

Before his blockbuster career really took off, McAvoy’s first major role was on “Shameless” - playing Fiona Gallagher’s boyfriend, McBride. Despite being a car thief, he has more morals than most on the show. His relationship with Fiona is shown to be completely honest, and he’s quick to protect her whenever necessary. McAvoy’s rising stardom may have contributed to his short-lived time on the show, but he made a massive impact as an original cast member.

#7: Arthur Claus
“Arthur Christmas” (2011)

McAvoy starred in two animated films in 2011, first “Gnomeo & Juliet”, and then this fun, festive adventure. As the naive and ever-optimistic youngest son of Santa Claus, McAvoy plays Arthur with childlike enthusiasm, ensuring that his quest to deliver a forgotten present hits exactly the right note. Backed-up by a blinding supporting cast including Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent and imelda Staunton, McAvoy’s the driving force behind a modern Christmas classic.

#6: Wesley Gibson
“Wanted” (2008)

Before starring in a another well-known comic book franchise, McAvoy smashed though this over-the-top action film, which is based on Mark Millar’s comic book series of the same name. As an unassuming office worker turned assassin, McAvoy convinces as both a down-on-his-luck loser and a badass, ruthless killer. He stands toe-to-toe with Hollywood heavyweights like Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, for a high-octane adventure and full-on, bullet-curiving entertainment.

#5: Nicholas Garrigan
“The Last King of Scotland” (2006)

Though this historical drama ultimately belongs to Forest Whitaker and his Oscar-winning performance as Ugandan leader Idi Amin, McAvoy’s role is crucial to the film’s success. As a young doctor who finds himself serving as Amin’s personal physician, we see through the eyes of McAvoy’s Garrigan the horror and madness of the infamous dictator’s rule. Carrigan is in a difficult situation between Amin and the British government, and while it’s all eyes on Whitaker, our sympathies lie squarely with McAvoy.

#4: DS Bruce Robertson
“Filth” (2013)

In this adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel, McAvoy fully lets loose as an unhinged Edinburgh police officer drowning himself in sex and drugs. After so many films playing the straight-laced hero, seeing McAvoy run amok as a foul-mouthed, drug-addicted, brain-addled copper is more than just a change of pace; it’s a revelation. Even if the film itself polarised opinion, there’s no denying that the actor puts in everything he’s got.

#3: Kevin Wendell Crumb
“Split” (2017)

Considering the dicey reviews given to some M. Night Shyamalan movies, McAvoy may have been taking a risk with this next performance. But his turn as a psychopath with Dissociative Identity Disorder is truly unnerving. Flitting between multiple personalities ranging from innocent to monstrous, McAvoy excels in all of them and constantly keeps the audience on their toes. He manages to balance between being scary and pitiful, retaining high suspense until a truly unexpected ending.

#2: Professor Charles Xavier
“X-Men” franchise (2000-)

Patrick Stewart’s Professor X was a tough act to follow, but McAvoy brought a new dimension to the telepathic teacher when he took on the role for the prequel, “X-Men: First Class”. His professor is debonair and charming, filled with a youthful buoyancy, but still with the same noble heart and hopeful outlook as Stewart’s character. McAvoy appeared alongside his older self in “Days of Future Past”, and he has continued to develop Xavier’s back-story - especially his link with Wolverine.

#1: Robbie Turner
“Atonement” (2007)

McAvoy is well known for taking the romantic lead, but “Atonement” remains his pinnacle performance. As the lowly housekeeper’s son who falls in love with Keira Knightley’s Cecilia, McAvoy excels in a role that requires him to be a poster boy for British period romance while also becoming a deconstruction of the archetypal character. His chemistry with Knightley makes the passion and tragedy of this wartime story that much more potent. It’s McAvoy at his finest.
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