ByGhezal Amiri, writer at
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Ghezal Amiri

has been a presence on the big screen for over 20 years, yet he became a staple in the hearts of moviegoers when he took up the role of Professor Charles Xavier in the franchise in 2011. He recently delved into the world of M. Night Shyamalan appearing as Kevin in the psychological thriller, in which he portrayals a dangerous man with 24 distinct personalities.

His portrayal of Kevin is an intensely difficult role that not many are able to achieve quite like McAvoy. He truly encompasses each personality and manages to do it so well that there are some that believe he deserves recognition.

Whether you have followed his career since the beginning or are only familiar with his recent works, there is no doubt that James McAvoy is a sheer joy to watch. Here are five of the greatest performances he has portrayed on screen.

5. Thomas Lefroy In 'Becoming Jane'

'Becoming Jane' [Credit: Miramax]
'Becoming Jane' [Credit: Miramax]

Release Date: August 10th, 2007

Becoming Jane follows the story of aspiring novelist, Jane Austen () as she is encouraged to settle down and find a suitable husband. James McAvoy portrays Austen's love interest, Thomas Lefroy, a charming yet penniless apprentice lawyer who gives her the knowledge of the heart she needs for her future career as a novelist.

McAvoy and Hathaway work incredibly well together and his performance as an arrogantly doting and encouraging young man truly embodies what an Austen love interest is. I must warn you though, the ending of this film will rip your heart out at just the glance between these two.

Watch the trailer for Becoming Jane below:

4. Mr. Tumnus In 'The Chronicles Of Narnia'

'The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe' [Credit: Disney]
'The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe' [Credit: Disney]

Release Date: December 9th, 2005

Realizing Professor X portrayed the beautifully adorable faun in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was quite a revelation. As the first being we meet who introduces us to the world of Narnia, his warm smile immediately put us at ease and his interactions with young Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) were simply captivating. McAvoy manages to enchant you by utilizing those doe eyes of his, yet there were hints throughout the film that made you hesitant to trust this adorable faun, which really makes the film that much more enjoyable to watch.

See the trailer for The Chronicles Of Narnia below:

3. Kevin In Split

'Split' [Credit: Universal Pictures]
'Split' [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Release Date: January 20th, 2017

This year's Split is another addition to Shyamalan's comeback after years of creating The Last Airbender and After Earth. Besides the intriguing concept of a man with a personality disorder kidnapping three girls, McAvoy's portrayal is a career-defining performance. Regardless how one feels about the film itself, many are in unanimous agreement that McAvoy is the greatest aspect of Split because of his ability to convey these distinct personalities quite flawlessly. He manages to evoke certain traits with each one of the personalities that makes them distinguishable, a feat that is almost impossible to accomplish without looking silly or failing completely. McAvoy gives 110 percent of himself in this role and it will be interesting to see if he challenges himself more — like he did as Kevin — in the future.

See the trailer for Split below:

2. Charles Xavier/Professor X In The X-Men Franchise

'X-Men: First Class' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
'X-Men: First Class' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Release Date: May 25th, 2011

Taking on the role of a young Charles Xavier, the same role that Sir managed to excel in for 11 years prior to First Class, was a daunting task that any lesser actor simply could not live up to. Not only did McAvoy exceed expectations in that 2011 prequel, he managed to achieve the unthinkable by making it his own. Seeing a young Xavier on the big screen was an idea fans were dying to witness; however, there were many that were hesitant at this prospect because of how beloved Stewart was.

McAvoy manages to portray a knowledgeable individual who also happens to have an incredible amount to learn beautifully, and his camaraderie with 's Magneto only enhances the relationship between Stewart and Sir 's original Professor X and Magneto, respectively. McAvoy doesn't try to do a Patrick Stewart impression; rather, he chooses to take this character and attempt to understand his motives and traits to create something of his own merit. It has been a privilege to watch James McAvoy in the prequel trilogy and hopefully the reports claiming we may see him in the reboot of the X-Men universe are true.

See the trailer for 'X-Men: First Class' below:

1. Robbie Turner In 'Atonement'

'Atonement' [Credit: Focus Features]
'Atonement' [Credit: Focus Features]

Release Date: December 7th, 2007

Before you check out 's take on the battle of this summer, make sure to visit the Joe Wright-directed Atonement, starring McAvoy and Keira Knightley. Atonement's five-minute tracking shot where we follow McAvoy's Robbie through the devastation at the beaches of Dunkirk is haunting and brilliantly directed. Besides the spectacular aspects of the film that are set against the backdrop of World War II, McAvoy's portrayal of Robbie Turner is nothing short of fantastic, and the heartbreaking journey we take with Robbie and Knightley's Cecilia is arguably the best aspect to this already amazing film.

Robbie's progression from the sexually-charged servant son to the conclusion of the film is just incredible to witness. It is rather remarkable seeing the range of emotion McAvoy conveys in this role; he described this character as one of the most difficult roles he had ever played because "he's very straight-ahead." He was actually Wright's first choice to play Robbie after turning down other roles he had offered him. Thankfully, Wright believed McAvoy "had the acting ability to take the audience with him on his personal and physical journey" and oh, how right Wright was!

See the Dunkirk tracking shot below:


What's your favorite James McAvoy role?


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