LOS ANGELES — James McAvoy is gearing up for a busy 2011 as he finishes filming X-Men: First Class, in which he stars as mutant leader Charles Xavier. But first, he’s finding love on the wrong side of the fence, lending his voice to the romantic lead in the animated Gnomeo and Juliet, with its soundtrack of Elton John classics. McAvoy sat down with Metro to talk about voiceover work, joining the X-Men and where Elton John truly belongs.
This is your first animated film?
Yeah. I did a puppet film a long time ago, but that was really just voicing over the work of a lot of Danish actors. Actually, it’s been really rewarding, artistically speaking. You get to go in and give it everything. And they don’t ever really tell you no, and they never tell you whether it’s bad or good. Well, they do say it’s great a lot, but you kind of go, “You say, ‘It’s great’ to everything. I’m not sure it can be true, because I was pretty crummy in that last one.”
Why do gnomes love Elton John music so much?
Well, I think his natural place is in the garden. It’s a little-known fact about Elton John, but I think he’s a very green-fingered gentleman. And maybe that’s why. I thought we were going to have Crocodile Rock in the movie. I didn’t think we were going to get anything else, so when I saw the film about a week and a half ago, I was really surprised to see that the entire musical concept for the film was taken from his back catalogue — and some new stuff as well.
You’ve got quite a supporting cast in this.
I think my favourite, I have to say, is Hulk Hogan. Having Hulk Hogan is hysterical. That’s the moment that I laughed more than anything else. Ozzy Osbourne was fantastic. Michael Caine, Dame Maggie Smith — and Jason Statham! Oh my God, the Transporter! I actually raced the Transporter. Come on! Yeah, he doesn’t mess with me, man. He knows where to draw the line. He knows he’s punching above his weight.
I’ll tell him you said that.
Please don’t. He’s a really nice guy — by all accounts, anyway. He sounds like a lovely man. But I still wouldn’t want to take him in a fight.
How is X-Men: First Class going?
Really good. We’ve got about another two weeks filming here, and then I think we’re done. And like all movies, it’s a slog. We’re just working 24/7. It’s big. It’s a big, big, big production. It’s kind of nice to be on those things.
Are you prepared for the attention you’ll get as part of a comic book franchise?
What, prepared to run away and hide? I’m very much prepared to run away and hide. I’m very much prepared not to publicize it at all and just run away and hide.