Actors on Actors

“I’ve tried to describe James McAvoy’s performance in ‘Atonement’ to people. It gets me in my throat. James is very reserved. There’s an internal smile, and he has an interesting wit underneath everything that he does. But when he has to live in those moments where he goes into unchartered waters, he does it completely. He completely commits himself to those moments. The word is ‘authentic.’ The emotions he plays are so large inside, and he expresses what is going on internally externally. In ‘Atonement,’ here is a man who has been falsely accused of rape by a little girl and sent to jail. Years later, the girl, who is now a nurse, comes to his apartment. But how do you deal with someone who has taken away your life and all she can say is, ‘I am sorry’? James walks by. Then he asks (Keira Knightley), ‘What is she doing here?,’ this girl who has accused him of rape years ago. He gets so upset and angry. It is difficult to play the weight of loss, but his anger and rage are real, and then he tries to swallow it. It was devastating, the way he played it. He’s trying to talk, but his throat is swollen up with pain. There is such an emptiness there.”

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