Television: James McAvoy gets into full geek mode for His Dark Materials

James McAvoy is trying to answer a simple question: Is he a geek or not?

Friday, 1st November 2019, 10:24 am
Updated Friday, 1st November 2019, 12:01 pm
Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua and James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials.
Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua and James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials.

The Scottish actor, who turned 40 this year certainly doesn’t look like what you may describe as “geeky” or “nerdy”.

He’s confident and still showing off the muscled, sculpted physique he gained for recent big-screen roles including Glass.

McAvoy’s latest stint sees him step away from the big screen and on to the British small screen to star in the BBC One adaption of Sir Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

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Sir Philip’s books have gained him a legion of fans, hence the question put to McAvoy about the geekery of it all.

He muses: “I don’t know if I am outwardly or physically geeky or a nerd or anything like that but this kind of stuff is so far up my ‘strase’ it’s not true.

“I’ve read the trilogy three times... and I just listened to Philip’s narration of it, for the second time...”

His tone livens up as he adds: “I just read the final or the latest Dresden Files, that’s some high level geekery...” Another thing that needs answering, though, is how the cast - which includes Ruth Wilson, Dafne Keen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anne-Marie Duff and Clarke Peters - felt about bringing this from the pages to the small screen.

After all, it was already adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in 2007.

For executive producer Jane Tranter, it’s a project she’s had in her sights for many years. She recalls reading them as they were written by Sir Philip, and wanting to adapt them at the time.

“But the rights had gone, they were taken by New Line to make into the film The Golden Compass so I sort of went back into my shell a bit,” she says.

“Then I went to the see the film and came out of my shell and thought, ‘Do you know what, maybe if I just keep going at this, maybe one day I will get the rights to make this...’”

His Dark Materials is on BBC One on Saturday, 8pm.