In the run up to its release, we sent our man Patrick Dane to speak to the Welcome to the Punch team – stars James McAvoy and Mark Strong, and writer-director Eran Creevy. If you don’t know the film, you can get up to speed with this trailer.
Tonight, we’re going to share what McAvoy had to tell Patrick, but not just about Punch. They also talked a little about Filth, which is an Irvine Welsh adaptation due in cinemas this summer, and – of course – a little about the X-Men films.
We’ll pick up with Welcome to the Punch, though, and how McAvoy’s deal to star in the film went down.
I told Eran Creevy like, “Look, if you want me to do this mate, I am into it” because they don’t say, “Hey we would like to make an offer and we would like to come over and have a chat.” It is more, “Hey, can we come over for a chat?” And I’m not going to assume that they are offering it to me. So yeah, you have to offer it dude. “Do you want me to fucking do it?”
Eran was very nervous. He is a nervous guy – a great, energetic guy but when he gets nervous he goes off even further than he currently is. It does make me feel funny when people are nervous around me, you don’t want anyone to feel nervous. There is no reason to feel nervous around me. I am fairly approachable I think. But obviously he was nervous because he needed to get somebody with a certain level of profile to get his movie funded, so all these meetings were, for that moment anyways, make or break.
You never know, there could have been someone the next day who could say yes and then he gets it made with somebody else, but for that moment, every meeting is make or break.
There are so many people out there who are like, “Yeah, I am trying to get this film off the ground,” and then five years later they still haven’t gotten it off the ground. It is a miracle that movies get made and my heart goes out to filmmakers for how difficult it is. I just made a film called Filth with the director who spent four years of his life making that film. And at any and at many points, that film nearly did collapse, y’know? This is such a treacherous business to be in.
In Filth I got to play someone that was so desperately unpleasant and fucked up, defintely one of the most fucked up characters out there, even in Irvines Welsh’s world – and that is saying something.
And I played that at the same time as trying to make the audience laugh and trying to make the audience cry. We tried to do everything in that film. There will be people who hate that film but we always aimed for it to be a film that people would either hate or love. And we try to do absolutely everything to you. We try to make everyone laugh or cry, be repulsed and be intrigued. And I think we were successful.
Now I will disappear again for a while. X-Men won’t be out until the summer of 2014 or 15 or whatever.
I know I drive my agents nuts sometimes because I am a wee bit picky but I think it is important to disappear. Partly because I do think audiences do get sick of you but also just to allow yourself sometime to grow. And I have been very lucky not to retrace my steps too much again and again, especially this year. It has been a very strong year of different types of roles for me and I would quite like that to continue. But now I will disappear again for a while. X-Men won’t be out until the summer of 2014 or 15 or whatever.
In X-Men: First Class I tried to get this thing across which they didn’t really run with. I had the idea that Charles Xavier was a bit conceited. But that is his privileged nature, even though he has a natural empathy. His whole power basically is a physical manifestation of empathy but [my idea was that] it still hadn’t come to full fruition yet because he didn’t really understand pain. By the end of the movie, he gets his pain and he truly becomes Professor X, learns empathy, because he understands what life is like for everybody else.
He’s so unlike most mutants. Every mutant’s story is about living in the ghetto and being fucked up, being bullied and all that. But Professor X is like, “Yeah, I have had a fucking excellent life to be honest with you… I don’t know what you are fucking complaining about” But then he gets his pain… and that’s what will propel him into the next movie to go through the crucible, to grow into that power of empathy he’s more traditionally portrayed with.
Thanks again to James McAvoy for his time. Welcome to the Punch is in UK cinemas now.