James McAvoy’s New Thriller Is Completely Improvised

James McAvoy didn't get to read the full script for the new thriller he's starring in.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

james mcavoy

The idea of working without a script might seem like a nightmare for any actor – unless you’re James McAvoy. Peacock’s new thriller, My Son was filmed in a revolutionary new way, mirroring that of its French counterpart.

The story follows Edmond Murray (James McAvoy), who gets a tearful call from his ex-wife when their seven-year-old son goes missing. It soon becomes clear that the child was kidnapped which leads him on a journey in search of answers, while his mysterious past looks set to catch up to him.

In preparation for the film, James McAvoy was given no script, no specific dialogue, nor told how the story would end. He was only aware of the basic plot details for his character. While the remaining cast and crew were fully aware of everything that was about to happen to him, which added to the tension.

From the introduction James McAvoy offers in the trailer, the Scottish actor enjoyed working this way. “I’ve managed to have an experience that no actor gets to have,” the X-Men: First Class star tells viewers. “I hope we’ll give the audience something really tangible that they can hang on as this thriller rattles along.”


The new James McAvoy thriller, My Son, is written and directed by Christian Carion who brings this groundbreaking approach over from his original 2017 film which also left his lead actor to discover the movie’s plot along with the audience. The French film of the same name starred Guillaume Canet and Mélanie Laurent in the lead roles. In 2017 The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the French film (Mon Garçon), praising the use of improvisation. While that may sound like a gimmick to get people interested in the film, the real stress the actor [Canet] is put under ultimately pays off.

Announced last October, it will be interesting to see if this non-scripted experiment will work. Perhaps My Son will start a trend of improvised thrillers going forward. However, judging by the trailer, the film appears to be a very well-made, well-acted feature. It’s just a matter of seeing if the James McAvoy-led story comes together really well.

James McAvoy is no stranger to challenging roles. In 2016 he starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological horror film Spilt. The film follows a man with 24 different personalities who kidnaps and imprisons three teenage girls in an isolated underground facility. The film received positive reviews, with critics praising the actor’s performance.

james mcavoy

Starring alongside James McAvoy in My Son are Claire Foy, Gary Lewis, Tom Cullen, Jamie Mitchie, Robert Jack, and Owen Whitelaw. My Son is due to premiere on September 15th on the Peacock streaming service.

Meanwhile, James McAvoy fans can catch the actor in Together, a British comedy-drama television film written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Stephen Daldry. It stars McAvoy and Sharon Horgan as a couple re-evaluating their relationship during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Samuel Logan making an appearance as their son, Artie. The James McAvoy starrer was shot in ten days in Kensal Rise, London. The movie was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 17 June 2021, with a theatrical release in the United States on August 27th.