James McAvoy has been cast in a thriller where he will play the father of a missing boy—with no script. Everyone else in the film, including Claire Foy, will have a script, but McAvoy will have to solve the mystery himself.
In My Son, an adaptation of Mon Garcon (2017), James McAvoy will travel to the town where his ex-wife (Foy) lives to search for answers about his missing son. The film will be directed by Christian Carion, who also helmed the original.
Could this be the future of detective thrillers, or will it fall flat on its face? When debating the many ways this film could be a hit or fall flat on its face, I wonder how far into his character James McAvoy is willing to go: so much so that he doesn’t rely on his knowledge of narrative tropes (both as a consumer and participant in film) and solve the mystery in five minutes, which was my first thought.
If any of us were presented with a real-life mystery, we’d probably be really bad at solving it (unless you’re one of those internet sleuths, like Michelle McNamara, the true-crime blogger who helped to solve the case of the Golden State Killer), so as an actor who knows that everything is fictional, McAvoy could take a short cut and collect his paycheck having solved the mystery in five minutes through the use of narrative tropes.
Or, he could end up extending the process by a further six months as he follows leads which aren’t there.
There’s a third option, where he embodies the character so much that he becomes totally incoherent, distraught at the loss of his fictional son, and we can’t tell where James McAvoy ends and his character begins. It hurts your brain to think about for too long.
Is this extreme form of method acting the future of cinema? It smacks ever-so-slightly left of The Truman Show, but in 2020, a dystopian nightmare where actors are trapped in an extensive fictional world with no script, just their wits, fits in well alongside the rest of the weirdness we’ve been experiencing.
The implications of this new format are mind-boggling. Maybe method acting like this could be the re-training Rishi Sunak has told those in the creative industries to pursue.
Having shown us by now that he’s a very fine actor, James McAvoy’s talent is not in question, but he’s a human being. Could this form of method acting be the way forward for film, or cause actors to spiral?
Words by Maddy Raven
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