Actor James McAvoy had the opportunity to play Marvel superhero Professor X in the rebooted X Men franchise. He eventually played the role alongside the original Professor X Patrick Stewart in one of the films.
But when he and Stewart shared a moment in the film, parts of it reminded him of a love scene.
James McAvoy found his casting as Professor X difficult to wrap his head around
James McAvoy would find himself portraying a younger version of Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. The film would act as a prequel to the original X Men movies directed by Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner. With first-class being directed by Matthew Vaughn, it would also act as a reboot of sorts.
When McAvoy was first offered the script, I found it challenging imagining himself in the role. This was because Stewart was so closely identified with the original Professor X.
“I didn’t see myself as the archetypal Sir Patrick Stewart, bald, Jean Luc Picard professor of the Starship Enterprise,” McAvoy once said according to Collider. “That was quite difficult to get my head around. I read the script, or the first 40 pages that existed at the time, and I realized we could take the character in a whole different direction. Have a lot more fun with him, make him a little bit more silly, a little bit more drunk, a little bit more randy. And that was good fun.”
This also meant that McAvoy didn’t have to model the character too much after Stewart’s performance. Although, I have still watched Stewart’s performance of him as Professor X to inform his own version of him.
“I looked really closely at Sir Patrick’s performance, which I really enjoyed, but to validate just making these movies you have to make the characters different, otherwise it’s just the same performances with sexy suits. I tried to take the key points of his character from him and flip them, ”he added. “He’s a good guy, I couldn’t make him a bad guy, but where he was wise I was unwise, where he was chaste I was randy, and so on.”
James McAvoy felt this ‘X-Men Days of Future Past’ moment was like a sex scene
McAvoy would eventually reprise his role as Professor X in the first-class sequel X-Men Days of Future Past. The project saw Singer returning to direct the X Men franchise. with the film involving time travelthe movie would focus on both the newer X Men actors and their predecessors. This included McAvoy and Stewart, who played the same character at different points in their lives.
Unlike the previous film, Days of Future Past truly felt like a passing of the torch to McAvoy. And the way that torch was being passed from Stewart to himself was exceptionally intimate for the actor.
“Although I’d previously played Charles in one other movie, it still did feel like I was being initiated and that there was a baton being handed over,” McAvoy once told XFMRadio (via Contact Music). “It was a very kind of ceremonial scene, in a very sort of ceremonial location. We were in a monastery, and the set was very quiet, and the director made sure that…It was much more like a sex scene.”
McAvoy went on to explain that it was the atmosphere created in the film that gave it that feeling.
“You know that when we do sex scenes we make sure there’s nobody on set. It’s just the boom operator, the camera man, and you don’t have loads of people staring at you…usually we do,” he continued. “And it was a bit more like that. Clearing the set, making it very quiet, very reverent, that was kind of cool. It felt like I was being initiated into some kind of superhero sect!”
Patrick Stewart was creeped out by James McAvoy’s performance as Professor X
Stewart has been very gracious and supportive of McAvoy taking on the role of Professor X. Stewart even quipped that he enjoyed the idea of fans in the future confusing McAvoy with himself.
“I never looked this good,” Stewart said in an interview with good morning america. “So I thought maybe people would remember me that I looked like James McAvoy.”
But Stewart also found McAvoy’s performance to be a bit creepy because of how well McAvoy channeled Stewart’s own Professor X.
“In this movie, there were moments when I clearly saw Professor Xavier in James, but there were even creepier moments when I saw Patrick Stewart, especially in profile, in James’ profile,” Stewart added.
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