The actor wanted his version of Charles Xavier in his “purple haze” era.
When it came time for Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy‘s versions of Charles Xavier to meet in the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, McAvoy felt it was important that they each take different approaches to the character.
The actor, who starred as a younger version of Stewart’s character across five films, recently told GQ that he played Younger Charles as a stoner to help differentiate himself from Stewart’s cool, calm, and collected take on Older Charles in the second film. The first step? Getting long hair (sorry, bald Older Charles) and leaning into the high times of the ’70s.
“I wanted to look like I smoke a lot of weed and maybe do a little bit of something stronger in the ’70s and sit in my purple haze,” McAvoy said in a recent GQ video. “Just to show how far that journey is gonna have to be to make him into Patrick Stewart.”
The only problem? McAvoy didn’t exactly have the freewheelin’ hippie haircut that Younger Charles, who was spending his time blazing trails and blazing up, rightfully deserved. So, the actor recalled, he ended up sitting for an “18-hour hair extension session” to get the luscious, shaggy locks audiences saw onscreen.
“I just sat there going outta my mind,” McAvoy joked about the experience. “But, at the end of it, I looked like Professor X.”
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) L to R: Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’
| Credit: Alan Markfield/20th Century Studios
But McAvoy’s changes to the character stretched beyond a good paisley print. He noted that he also gave Younger Charles a “massive ego” to highlight the personal growth the character would have to undergo to become Stewart’s iteration.
“I think one of the defining aspects of what Patrick did and who Charles ultimately becomes is his selflessness,” he said. “But we’d seen that in four movies — and now more with Logan as well — in the ones that Patrick did. So I was like, ‘What do we want to do? We wanna just do that again?’ We’ve got the opportunity to go back in time and show that he had to grow into that person, so ego was a massive thing.”
Watch McAvoy dish on X-Men — and being a terrible marksman while training for the film Wanted — in the clip above.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Movie)