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James McAvoy is a First Class X-Man

James McAvoy is a favorite of Sundance’s own guiding light Robert Redford, who cast him in the Civil War drama The Conspirator. Redford clearly has great taste in actors (and bloggers, too, lol).

At a TimesTalk the other evening in Times Square, McAvoy charmed the audience with his thick Scottish accent and self-effacing personality, proving why he’s become one of today’s go-to actors most worth going to.

Asked if he watches American Idol, McAvoy said, “It’s like cocaine to me. I don’t know how to kick the habit.”

Pause. “Actually, I don’t know who the people are! I’m sure they’re very good.”

The audience already wanted to eat the guy up. And they loved him even more when he gave a spiel about how important American culture is, then laughed and said, “That sounded so fake!”

But his takes on his diverse filmography were very real. Here are the highlights:

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

McAvoy said the film cost only four to five million bucks, “so they couldn’t afford anybody that demanded a wage.” And Ewan McGregor and Gerald Butler were too old for it, he added. McAvoy said he was given the part, then six months later, asked to audition for it! Fortunately, he nailed it.

Was Forest Whitaker always in character? “He wasn’t trying to chop people’s heads off,” remembered McAvoy, “but he was always in contact with his character.” And since his character was Idi Amin, that kept everyone suitably on edge.

Becoming Jane (2007)

“I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with a Jane Austen fan,” said McAvoy about the punchy purists. “People point out that certain elements of the film were untrue, and of course they were, but rather than a documentary, it was an exploration of her artistic soul.”

Atonement (2007)

“My character was just so perfect. The beauty of that film is the fact that we destroy him and kill his beautiful soul and make him real.”

Wanted (2008)

“Angelina killed herself in the film and subsequently ruined any chance of a franchise. I can’t believe a producer said, ‘What a great idea!’ ”

Gnomeo & Juliet and the upcoming Arthur Christmas

“I think I’m being paid to hyperventilate. It sounds like you’re having sex with an ostrich. Your face is red and you need sugar and tea!”

And of course…

X-Men: First Class

“Michael Fassbender is incredible, and really strong—and sexy.” McAvoy added that he and Fassbender decided to work out the textures of their on-screen relationship to give the film heart and make it “more than an action movie.”

As for our man Redford? He thinks he’s amazing. Duh.