Every year, the Oscars ceremony brings together Hollywood’s biggest stars to celebrate their achievements over the previous 12 months. James McAvoy can certainly attest to that, as he presented one of the awards at the 2019 show. However, the actor’s evening took an interesting turn when he found a Sharpie pen on the floor.
Born in April 1979, McAvoy grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, alongside his parents James and Elizabeth. That all changed a few years later, though, as the future star moved in with his grandparents, as a result of his mom and dad’s divorce. Away from that, he had some intriguing aspirations during his youth.
Indeed, McAvoy considered taking on the role of a missionary, but his plans changed after an interesting day at school. He started to think about a potential career in acting after meeting Scottish performer David Hayman at that point. Off the back of that encounter, Hayman would make the teenager an enticing offer.
McAvoy was offered a role in Hayman’s latest movie The Near Room, which the latter also directed. The Glasgow native accepted the part, making his big-screen debut as a result in 1995. Some two years on from that, he made his first TV appearance in the long-running British crime drama The Bill.
McAvoy’s work in 1997 didn’t end there, though, as he also featured in the historical drama Regeneration. After that, the teenager was then cast in the television movie An Angel Passes By. However, he was still unsure about where his future lay during that period, convinced that acting wasn’t the long-term answer.
On that note, McAvoy looked to join the Royal Navy, but his plans changed once again after receiving a different offer. Indeed, the future Hollywood star was given the opportunity to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama instead. Faced with a difficult choice, he opted to enroll at the latter, despite the doubts he had previously had.
Off the back of that decision, McAvoy eventually graduated from the school in 2000. At that point, the aspiring actor then relocated to London, England, as he looked to kick-start his career. Indeed, later that year he featured in the television movie Lorna Doone, his first on-screen appearance since 1997.
Some 12 months on from that, McAvoy started to take on quite a bit of work, earning a role in the British anthology show Murder in Mind. From there, the Glasgow native was cast in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, which starred the likes of Damian Lewis and Ron Livingston. That wasn’t all, though.
McAvoy also went on to appear in the 2001 horror movie The Pool, featuring alongside Isla Fisher and Kristen Miller. After that, the actor continued to earn different roles over the next couple of years, as he slowly established himself on the small-screen. However, his big breakout performance didn’t come until 2004.
After roles in programs such as Foyle’s War and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, McAvoy was cast in the British comedy series Shameless. Taking on the character of Steve McBride, he featured in a baker’s dozen of the show’s episodes, before leaving in 2005. Off the back of that performance, he then bagged a part that changed his life forever.
That change came when McAvoy was cast in the 2005 blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He took on the character of Mr Tumnus, featuring alongside the likes of Tilda Swinton and Jim Broadbent. His rise didn’t end there, though, as he earned another significant role the following year.
McAvoy bagged one of the leading parts in Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland, a film about Idi Amin’s dictatorship in the 1970s. Taking on the role of Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, the Glasgow native went on to earn his first BAFTA nomination for that performance. Meanwhile, his co-star Forest Whitaker won a BAFTA and an Oscar for his portrayal of Amin.
From there, McAvoy appeared in two more films in 2006, including the romantic comedy Penelope, which also featured the likes of Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon. Some 12 months later, he then starred in Becoming Jane alongside Anne Hathaway, which charted the early life of author Jane Austen. However, his career took another major turn after that.
Joe Wright recruited McAvoy to his latest project, the romantic drama Atonement, in 2007. Starring alongside Keira Knightley, he earned his second BAFTA nomination for that performance, as well as his first Golden Globes nod. After that success, the actor scored a leading role in a very different type of movie.
McAvoy joined the cast of the 2008 comic-book movie Wanted, adapted from the series by J. G. Jones and Mark Millar. Taking on the character of Wesley, he starred alongside the likes of Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, with the film earning close to $350 million worldwide. That wouldn’t be his last action role, though.
Indeed, after appearing in films such as The Last Station and Gnomeo & Juliet, McAvoy gained one of his most recognizable parts in 2011. The Glasgow native was cast as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class that year, following on from Patrick Stewart’s memorable portrayal of the character. From there, he then enjoyed a very busy 2013.
McAvoy was cast as the lead in three major movies that year, starting with the action thriller Welcome to the Punch. After that, he joined Danny Boyle’s crime drama Trance, which also starred the likes of Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel. Following on from that, the actor scored the main role in Filth, an adaptation of the Irvine Welsh book.
After those performances, McAvoy returned to the X-Men franchise in 2014, as he reprised the role of Charles Xavier in Days of Future Past. Some two years later, he returned for his third film in the series, titled X-Men: Apocalypse. Away from that, the Hollywood actor was still able to earn some other interesting parts.
McAvoy was cast in movies such as Victor Frankenstein, Atomic Blonde and Split during that period, flexing his muscles in other genres. The latter in particular really stood out, as he portrayed a character with over 20 different personalities. Such was the film’s success, the actor returned for the sequel Glass in 2019.
Before reprising the role of Kevin Wendell Crumb, though, McAvoy also took on the character of Gnomeo again in 2018’s Sherlock Gnomes. Unlike a lot of his previous work, he had a very unique way of preparing himself for that particular part. So on that note, he lifted the lid on his secret during a humorous interview.
“I basically made sure I did a lot of shouting, a lot of screaming,” McAvoy told ABC Radio. “I’d go out really late at night and try to make sure that my voice was husky, and sort of raspy and sexy as possible. On this one, you just got to inhabit it and enjoy it.”
“You try to put as much of something different in Gnomeo as you can,” McAvoy added. After his performances in Sherlock Gnomes and Glass, the Glasgow native’s next big appearance came at the 2019 Academy Awards. That night, he was presenting one of the gongs alongside Black Panther star Danai Gurira.
However, McAvoy’s evening then took an interesting turn after that, as he discovered a Sharpie pen on the floor during the ceremony. Instead of ignoring it, the Hollywood star picked it up and devised an intriguing plan. With the red marker in his possession, he passed it over to some of the actors at the show to add their signature to his white shirt.
As the night progressed, McAvoy took to his Instagram page to show off the results, snapping a selfie in a bathroom mirror. In addition to that, he also posted a message alongside the photo, explaining what happened in a rather tongue-in-cheek way. Indeed, according to the actor, he was accosted by his famous friends.
“Went to the Oscars,” McAvoy wrote on the social media website in February 2019. “Presented. Got mugged by Sharpie-wielding celebrities. #thuglebrity. I’m sure my shirt is going to be defaced by more of these entitled graffiti mentalists as the night goes on.” That post subsequently drew a sizable response on Instagram.
McAvoy’s photo and message earned more than 650,000 likes on the social media website, while also generating more than 4,500 comments. At the end of the night, he then provided another update via Instagram Stories, this time revealing the true purpose behind the Sharpie signatures. According to him, it was all done in the spur of the moment.
“Hey there everybody in the world,” McAvoy said in the video. “So we’ve just finished being at the Oscars, we left slightly early because we’re jet-lagged and not feeling great. But I did find a Sharpie on the floor, and when I found said Sharpie on the floor I started to ask all our celebrity friends to start signing my shirt.”
“I don’t know why I had that idea, but I did,” McAvoy continued. At that point, he then listed off some of the names that could be found on his white shirt. “I’ve got some amazing people on here,” the actor said. “We’ve got Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Charlize Theron, Amy Adams.”
From there, McAvoy explained what his shirt would be used for after it did the rounds at the Academy Awards. “We’ve got some incredible people on this shirt,” he said. “I think we’ll probably try and sell it for charity. I don’t know how we’ll do that, but we’ll figure out a mechanism.”
“We’ll figure out a destination for the proceeds of this thing, and we’ll do it,” McAvoy added, before saying goodbye to some of the staff at the ceremony. The Instagram Stories video was subsequently shared on Twitter, generating another big response on social media. Indeed, the short clip has been viewed more than 300,000 times since being posted.
In addition to that, the tweet itself has earned close to 30,000 likes and 10,000 retweets on Twitter, while also garnering over 50 comments. Most of those responses praised McAvoy’s gesture at the Oscars, but one in particular stood out, drawing a comparison to an old school tradition.
“This is the celeb equivalent of signing your friends’ shirts and getting them to sign yours on the last day of school!” wrote the Twitter user. That post also drew a reply, as someone else agreed with the comparison. “As soon as I saw [McAvoy] I thought he looked like a year 11 on the last day,” they wrote.
A few weeks on from that night at the Oscars, McAvoy finally posted an update on his Instagram account. The Glasgow native shared another photo of himself wearing the signed shirt, but on this occasion he named the charity that would benefit from it. “Calling all shirt and megastar lovers,” he wrote in the accompanying message in March 2019.
“I went to the Oscars and got graffitied by an absolute ton of acting royalty,” McAvoy continued. “I’m going to sweepstake this amazing shirt in aid of Ronald McDonald House New York. It is an incredible charity that helps house and feed children and their families whilst they battle cancer.”
On that note, McAvoy then made an appeal to those on social media. “For just ten bucks or pounds or whatever your currency is, you can have the chance to win this shirt or some great secondary prizes and help some beautiful families,” he wrote. “Please help if you can, and if you can’t thanks for reading.”
McAvoy’s post drew a sizable reaction on Instagram, earning more than 200,000 likes. Meanwhile, the actor’s words also generated close to 3,000 comments, as social media users responded to his gesture. After discovering the cause, a few people decided to share their own stories about the Ronald McDonald House charity, with one standing out.
“Excellent charity to support!” wrote an Instagram user in the comments section. “I stayed at a Ronald McDonald House for a month, and honestly it was such a memorable experience. All the families were going through such hard times, and that place just felt like such a ‘safe space.’”
“They fed us, housed us, entertained us with passes to local attractions,” the Instagram user added to their comment. “There was a play room and a playground outside. All the kids there were given such a lovely place to come ‘home’ to at the end of very long and rough days.”
Meanwhile, another user praised McAvoy’s actions. “I’m really happy for whoever gets this shirt, but happier for the fact James is helping to get donations for a cancer charity,” they wrote. “I know what it’s like to lose someone to that horrible disease. Anyone going through that, I wish you the best of luck, love and support.”
As for McAvoy, he still has a busy year ahead of him, with some major releases hitting both the big and small screens. Indeed, the latest X-Men film, titled Dark Phoenix, is set to come out in June 2019, while horror sequel It: Chapter Two reaches theaters in September. Elsewhere, the actor will also appear in the TV show His Dark Materials.