James McAvoy is a master of versatility -- look at 'Atonement' and 'Last King of Scotland' -- and now he's shooting to expand his range to blockbuster action hero. In 'Wanted,' he's Wesley Gibson, an office-bound loser recruited into a league of assassins. He talked to Moviefone about kissing (and getting beaten up by) Angelina Jolie, those Bilbo Baggins rumors ... and what this Scotsman wears under his kilt. -- By Patricia Chui
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1. I heard that you got the role of Wesley because you were considered geekier than the average action hero. Do you see yourself as a geek?
I suppose I kind of do see myself as more geeky than your average action hero. Somewhere between geeky and not geeky, actually ... Before I was 15, I was just one of those guys who didn't rear his head. And then when I was 16, I started playing in a band, and getting a little bit more artsy fartsy and hanging out with people who talked about music and things like that, and so I probably became a bit more geeky -- but in my own eyes, a little bit more cool.
2. Did you ever have a dull, dead-end job like Wesley does in the movie?
I worked in a bakery for two years, when I was 16. I was a trainee convectioner. So I made all the really easy shitty cream cakes and iced the buns, and put the jam in the sponge, and all that kind of stuff. So that was my daily grind for two years. I have nightmares about creamy buns.
3. What were you more nervous about: kissing Angelina Jolie, or getting beaten up by Angelina Jolie?
I'm always nervous about doing the kissing scenes -- they're never comfortable, they're always kind of weird, they're not enjoyable, do you know what I mean? But the fight scenes, getting beaten up by her all the time is fine, that was fun. That's one of the reasons I did the job, is to do all those scenes.
4. What was your least favorite part of training?
I'd say wide-gripped, palm-forward pull-ups were really, really, really difficult, and I kind of feel like they were put on this planet to make me hot -- they're God's punishment for original sin, I think.
5. Have you ever Googled yourself, like Wesley does in the movie?
Four years ago I was Googling myself and I uncovered a very, very bad review for a film that I was in, and it targeted me, so I haven't Googled myself since. I was a proper victim of my own narcissism.
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6. If you were an assassin or a superhero, what alias would you choose for yourself?
Empatho-man. I'd have empathy for everyone. That would be my superhero [power].
7. Wesley suffers from panic attacks. What would give you panic attacks in real life?
I don't know ... oh, I know -- car-test people. What do you call them? Driving instructors, those kinds of people. [The driving test] is not easy, it isn't a pleasant experience. I have trouble with anything to do with cars that doesn't involve them crashing. There was actually only one day [of filming] where I had to really drive a car, and that was really old Mustang, and the brakes were shot to shit, so that was kind of scary.
8. Did this movie remind you of 'Fight Club' at all?
It's nice that you're comparing it -- I think that's a good comparison. It's got the same kind of cynical and sarcastic and ironic sense of humor whilst coupled with severe, extreme violence.
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9. Did you learn any Russian from director Timur Bekmambetov?
I learned the word "popul," which is "bulls-eye," and we used that quite a lot. When we liked something, we'd say "Popul!"