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McAvoy pulls a cracker in a festive role

Having scored a surprise hit earlier this year with Gnomeo & Juliet, James McAvoy is back behind the mic for Aardman Animation's latest offering, Arthur Christmas.

"It's a pretty cool experience for an actor, doing animation," offers McAvoy. "You've got to project your character, your emotions, clearly and simply. And then you've got to allow for the fact that there's going to be a physical representation of you up there on the screen, who won't necessarily look like you. Or walk like you. Or even talk like you. If you're lucky. In a way, it's what every actor dreams of -- completely losing yourself in a role to the point where no one will recognise it's you."

McAvoy and the missus, fellow former Shameless actor Anne-Marie Duff, have a child, one-year-old Brendan: "It is a kick, thinking about how a child's mind is going to work out how their parent's voice is coming out of someone they don't recognise, at all," smiles McAvoy. "You want to keep that wonder there as long as you can, and doing these animated films is certainly one way to sprinkle some magic into my child's life. And a little confusion too, of course . . ."


According to one ratings board, Arthur Christmas contains 'some mild rude humour', which has become the one saving grace of a Christmas film these days. It certainly worked for Elf.

"There is a comparison to be made to Elf, indeed," nods McAvoy. "A dose of humour is pretty effective when it comes to countering all the usual seasonal trimmings. This is Aardman though, so . . . as John Lasseter always says, it's all about the story. Whether it's shot in digital animation or with your kid's crayons, if the story works, the audience will follow."

We'll be seeing plenty of McAvoy over the coming months, acting alongside Mark Strong and Peter Mullan in Evan Creevy's crime drama Welcome To The Punch, alongside Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson in Danny Boyle's Trance (currently filming), and early next year, there's Jon S Baird's adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel Filth, which will co-star Jamie Bell and Alan Cumming. There's also talk of the sequel to the Angelina Jolie-led, 2008 hit Wanted.

"Yeah, I've heard talk about that one too," smiles McAvoy. I like mixing it up. Keeps me interested, and, hopefully, that comes across in my work . . ." >Paul Byrne

Arthur Christmas is in cinemas