James McAvoy Wanted To Look Like A Stoner For His Biggest Role

By Danyell Marshall | Published

James McAvoy

Playing an iconic character is high stakes for any actor. So when James McAvoy learned he’d be playing Professor X in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, he immediately knew he wanted to give the character a new dimension. To distinguish his version of the character, McAvoy knew he wanted to look like “he smokes a lot of weed” (per Syfy). He felt that adding a layer of perceived illicit behavior to the mysterious character would help fans recognize growth and evolution.

To create a distinct past self, he wanted fans to feel the significant change within the character, so he knew his performance had to be transformative. McAvoy saw an opportunity to show a very different side of Charles Xavier before he became the professor. He wanted to make it interesting and show he was another person once upon a time.

As an experienced actor, James McAvoy understands how to build character development into a performance. The characters’ mannerisms, speech, and look must reflect a distinct and cohesive persona to sell the early version of the professor.

James McAvoy also told Syfy that he “want[ed] to have long hair, and I wanted to look like I smoke a lot of weed and maybe do a little bit of something stronger in the seventies and set in my purple haze just to show how far that journey is gonna have to be to make him into Patrick Stewart.”

professor x james mcavoy

That long hair was a labor of love. In preparation for the part, James McAvoy shaved his head to a tight almost-bare buzzcut for a famously bald character. However, when McAvoy discovered that the plot was set in the 1970s, he knew he’d made a mistake and decided to take drastic action.

The production studio called in a hair and makeup professional for a grueling hair extension installation. With McAvoy’s hair so short, the process of attaching the extensions was painstaking. But, eighteen hours later, James McAvoy had the perfect 1970s look to complement the groovy vibe he brought to the rigid professor.

James McAvoy is a talented actor who isn’t afraid of a challenge. Changing up the professor’s look and recreational vices represents a significant workload for the Scottish actor. McAvoy would later reveal he felt the character had missed development opportunities he could have seized on.

Rumors that James McAvoy’s interpretation of Professor X was to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, he put those rumors to rest when a fan inquired about the role on Twitter. McAvoy’s hilarious one-word response, “No,” quickly put those rumors to rest.

McAvoy has been outspoken about his dedication to character development. His most significant criticism of his time as Professor X was that his relationships and backstory weren’t developed even more. Nevertheless, James McAvoy saw the role as a chance to add depth to an iconic character with a big fan base.

McAvoy’s investment in his character gave fans a coifed, slightly baked reprisal of Patrick Stewart’s beloved role. But, no matter how the performance lands, no one can say the actor didn’t add an element to its legacy. James McAvoy’s vision gave Professor X the hair and haze to seamlessly move through the 1970s.