In “Wanted,” James McAvoy is more of a super-zero than a superhero.
His character is a compulsive apologizer and a powerless cubicle peon in the action flick, also starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. When faced with a donut-bingeing, stapler-wielding boss, McAvoy has vein-popping panic attacks that trigger a blast of adrenaline.
“I was making myself hyperventilate, but I kind of did it too much,” revealed the Scotland-born McAvoy, 29, who said he actually passed out during one of his attacks — that’s in addition to the various bruised ribs and sprained ankles he endured during shooting.
He also fainted on the set of “The Last King of Scotland” during his stomach-churning torture scene with Academy Award-winning star Forest Whitaker. It’s that kind of complete physical commitment to his roles that has made McAvoy a go-to guy for blockbusters and Oscar-quality films alike, from his turn as Mr. Tumnus in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” to his performance as Robbie Turner, a young man falsely accused of rape and sent off to World War II, in the epic romance “Atonement.”
However, none of these roles could prep him for playing Jolie’s punching bag in “Wanted.” “It was kind of emasculating and completely humiliating to be beat up by a girl the entire time,” he said. “It was the most humiliating experience of my professional life.”
And when he did get a chance to plant a big juicy kiss on Jolie’s famous lips, he “was way too focused on remembering my lines” to remember any details, he said — though he does vaguely recall having to kiss her more than once to get the take right.
For this physically demanding role, he also had to eat “endless amounts of chicken, eggs and protein shakes” to beef up for his transformation into a gun-slinging assassin. But if the rumors are right and he is cast as Bilbo Baggins in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Hobbit,” he’ll have to do some shrinking.
For now, he’s not sweating it. “I’m a huge fan of the Tolkien saga, everything to do with Middle-earth,” he said. “But no, there’s no truth in the fact that they’ve approached me yet.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Wanted.”
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