Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The family feud that haunts Atonement star James McAvoy

December 18, 2013

You could hardly blame actor James McAvoy for being a little bleary-eyed as the black limo deposited him outside the Beverly Hills mansion.

It was now past 2am, but Atonement's leading man and his actress wife Anne-Marie Duff were determined not to miss Prince's post-Oscars soiree.

Despite his tiredness, McAvoy was elated. He had earlier presented an award in front of Hollywood's finest at the 80th Academy Awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in the poverty-stricken area of Drumchapel in Glasgow, the actor's father, James McAvoy Snr, was hard at work atop a roof.

Tired from his morning's labours, roofer McAvoy Snr was further drained by a late night of his own.

He had tried - but failed because of the eight-hour time delay with Los Angeles - to stay up to watch his son's big Oscar moment.

But the small television screen in his cramped Glasgow flat is perhaps as close as McAvoy Snr will ever get to his son.

Poignantly, he hasn't spoken to James for 21 years.

The 29-year-old actor is notorious for being fiercely private, rarely talking about his family circumstances or relationship with Anne-Marie.

Perhaps it's little wonder he is less than forthcoming about his background.

For the Mail has discovered that behind the diminutive actor's seemingly effortless rise to fame lies a heartbreaking story of a broken family, a violent half-brother and a hard childhood on one of Glasgow's most notorious council estates.

Today, his lonely father can only marvel from afar at his son's success.

"It has been hard on me not being in his life, but I'm just glad that he seems happy," says James Snr, ruefully.
"I hope one day he'll get in touch. I was amazed he'd done so well."

Hearing McAvoy's clipped upper-crust English vowels as Robbie Turner in Atonement, many fans will be unaware the actor hails from such humble Scottish beginnings.

McAvoy spent his turbulent early life in a terrace council house on the graffiti-decorated 1950s Drumchapel housing estate, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents James and Mary Johnstone.

Butcher James and wife Mary, whom McAvoy still regularly visits, were his role models when they took him in aged seven, following his mother Elizabeth's split from his father.

Psychiatric nurse Elizabeth, or Liz as the family prefer, suffered from "poor health" so felt her son James, and daughter Joy, then five, would be better off at her parents' home a few streets away.

Roofer Mr McAvoy, 50, explains: "We were a very happy family and for a long time there were no problems.

"James was a real daddy's boy - we would go swimming and play football together. We didn't have a lot of money, but we got by."

But childhood sweethearts James and Liz "grew apart" and, by their late 30s, had divorced.

"Our son took it hard," says McAvoy Snr.

"He just wasn't the carefree little boy he'd been before."

At first, father and son continued their relationship, with James Snr taking his son swimming or to watch Celtic football team.

But when a year later James Snr moved in with a new lover, Mary McKinnon, the eight-year-old McAvoy refused to have anything to do with his father.

"I think James still had hopes of me and his mum sorting things out," claims McAvoy Snr.

"He started refusing to see me because he didn't like Mary. In the end I took a step back rather than upset him."

The young McAvoy demonstrated his steely nature when a few years later he was larking around in the playground of the St Thomas Aquinas secondary school in Drumchapel and spotted his father working on the school roof.

"James just looked away without saying a word," recalls his father sadly.

It does, however, seem odd that he was so determined to wipe out of his life the man he once idolised just because of the appearance of a new lover.

Surely there must be more to the split than the reticent James Snr would have us believe.

McAvoy Jnr has himself hinted there is another side to the story.

"I can't really be bothered with it," he told one interviewer of his father's attempts to get back in touch.

"I know what happened and I know what didn't happen."

Read more: 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Actor James McAvoy's father and half-brother face drug charges...

The father and half brother of Scottish actor James McAvoy have appeared in court charged with dealing drugs.

James McAvoy snr, 55, and Donald McAvoy, 24, are charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine at their flat in Drumchapel, Glasgow.

Both men were arrested at the flat in Kinfauns Drive on 5 December.

They made no plea or declaration during a private appearance at Glasgow Sheriff Court and were granted bail pending a future court appearance.

Actor James McAvoy jnr, 34, originally from Drumchapel, has had no contact with his father since childhood and has never met his half brother.


No comments: