James McAvoy is Professor X in X-Men: First Class

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:13 pm,

Twentieth Century Fox and producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Bryan Singer are hard at work, fast-tracking production on X-Men: First Class, the prequel film about the formation of the young X-Men and the relationship between mutant leaders Professor X and Magneto.

With Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn officially on board to helm the project after rumors that he would and then would not sign on, the next step in the process is filling out the cast. X-Men: First Class is being re-written by Jane Goldman and will begin filming this summer for a release next summer. With that in mind, we can expect major casting decisions to start pouring in, beginning with today’s report of James McAvoy (Wanted, Atonement) signing on to play Professor Charles Xavier.

You read that correctly. Patrick Stewart has been replaced by the young Scottish actor to play Professor X in X-Men: First Class, which means we’ll likely be seeing an entirely new cast of actors taking over the roles of our favorite mutants.

As X-Men movie fans know, we saw at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine a de-aged Patrick Stewart playing a younger Professor X as he rescued Cyclops, Emma Frost and other mutants, a scene that acted as a lead-in to X-Men: First Class. With Stewart seemingly replaced, it’s likely that the young actors we saw play the other mutants in Wolverine could all be replaced as well. That could mean no Tim Pocock as Scott Summers and no Tahyna Tozzi as Emma Frost.

This is not too surprising since we heard three weeks ago that Bryan Singer was using the casting process for his upcoming Jack the Giant Killer to find candidates to play Cyclops and Jean Grey.

McAvoy is a talented young actor but I have a hard time picturing him in the role at the moment. After being so accustomed to Stewart play the part – who was really born for the role – McAvoy just doesn’t look like him at all. Maybe I just need to see him bald.

A few questions remain; Will McAvoy play Xavier throughout or in flashbacks with young Magneto? Will Stewart have any involvement or is he done until X-Men 4?

With an established actor taking over the Xavier character, we can expect another known star to take over the role of Magneto as well, while relative unknowns fill out the cast of young X-Men characters. We still don’t know yet who will form the X-Men: First Class roster but we do know some new characters will be created just for the movie.

What do you think of James McAvoy playing Professor X?

Follow us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

If you’re a fan, check out our articles on What We Need From X-Men 4 and on What X-Men 3 Could Have Been.

X-Men: First Class opens June 3, 2011.

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TAGS: x-men, x-men: first class

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  1. James Macavoy is brilliant actor! His role on shameless was superb
    I fully support this

    Although like you I think patrick stewart was bron to play Prof X, but his de-aged form in wolverine looked so weird, im happy they are going with a new actor

  2. I like this bit of casting. I just wish they did a complete reboot though — no prequel crap.

    • Agreed

  3. If you study McAvoy’s face it’s easy to see he has that same prominent nose that Stewart sports. It’s a starting point anyway. I can’t help but like him I thought he was good as Leto Atreides II…

    • The first character I ever saw him play was Leto Atredies II. He was brilliant. No harm in liking that! I love it!

      • Ditto. I’d never heard of him before that – thought he acted everyone else off the screen.

  4. IMO he could probably pull of Magneto better.

  5. No interest in this film what so ever. Not a fan of first class. I don’t like the young Xmen. I’m a wolverine fan mostly, x3 ruined the xfilms for me , singer isn’t directing me and now this? I won’t be watching it. Patrick Stewart is Xavier he was the only thing keeping me interested.

  6. While I can definitely see an origin story on Professor X and Magneto interesting, I can’t help but be disappointed that this will make the X-Men themselves more of supporting characters. I had hoped this might finally give the vastly under-used character of Cyclops a chance to shine, and I think the opportunity for a reverse on the romantic triangle of Cyclops, Emma Frost and Jean Grey would have been rather interesting. Perhaps we will eventually get this, but hard to say. I think it unlikely, given the film’s focus, that much time (if any) will be devoted to this. Certainly it will be dependent on how well this now seemingly mis-titled film “First Class” will do at the box office.

    I’ll have to go back to the original film to check this, but I got the impression from that movie that it was the X-Men’s first meeting with that version of Magneto’s “Brotherhood.” Does this mean a different group of bad guy mutants for the X-Men to face in “First Class?” And if so, then which mutants? Can Fox even use Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver since those two are more associated with the Avengers?

  7. Im very curious as to what younger actor will play Eric Lehnsherr. I am having a hard time picturing anyone but Ian McLellan. I also am going to have a hard time accepting James McAvoy.

  8. I could easily accept another magneto. Ian did a great job but he doesn’t embody magneto. Patrick Stewart defined Xavier he was Xavier and always will be. When I was reading the comics I always thought ” man captain Picard would kick ass as xavier” after watching the first xfilm no one else could ever play that part.

    Just to further explain my self. Christian Bale is an amazing actor he plays Bruce Wayne and Batman very well I think Tom Jane did great as the punisher and Ian was great as Magneto. However not one of those guys are that part they can all be recast in a reboot and eventually be accepted. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Bale and the current Bat films but eventually there will be a new batman and that’s acceptable to me.

    Patrick Stewart is Xavier , RDJ is Iron Man as far as I’m concerned no one else can play those parts on the same level any thing else would be a cheap knock off. Even to a lessar extent I’ll include Hugh Jackmans Wolverine the only way I could ever accept someone else would be if they found a talented short buff actor lol to stay true to the comics and even than it would have to be at least five years after Wolvues last apperance.

    • In terms of a younger Xavier, I’ve always thought it would be ironic if they were to cast Tom Hardy in the role. After all, he’s already played a younger version of Patrick Stewart thanks to his role as Shinzon in “Star Trek: Nemesis.” Despite that film’s failings, I don’t think his performance was one of them.

  9. I like to see maybe James Masterson to play a younger Magneto

    till next time

  10. I agree patrick stewart does embody that character. But i disagree that Ian McLellan doesnt embody Magnus. I was really looking forward to seeing him in a origins magneto movie. Is anyone else with me on that? or am I alone? He was just too perfect.

  11. DOn’t get me wrong Ken x I think Ian did an amzing job and was a great choice I just could easily see another actor in that part. I mean I think Patrick Stewart has an uncanny ability to become what ever he is doing so much so that his characters become iconic and no one could ever play them again. It doesn’t hurt that he is an exact carbon copy of Xavier. I don’t think looks wise any character could be more perfectly cast. Ian is a terrific actor but I think others could of dine just as well and let’s not forget Ian doesn’t resembel magneto from the comics very much at all. So while he wad great I could see him recast and if choosen very carefully it could turn out just as good as Ian.

  12. They can change every actor if they want to…but Patrick is and will ever be Xavier. Whenever i read the comic i picture him. Even some Marvel Artis have him in mind when they draw Xavier. McAvoy might be good….but he is noway close to be equal to Sir Patrick Stewart. Not in the looks department and not yet in the acting part.

  13. Yea I suppose he doesn’t quite look like him. I just hope they pick someone who plays the part well. And I know we need a younger Actor for it. I just can’t think of one!

  14. I can just see how they are going to make up for the fact that Patrick Stewart was used as Professor X in Wolverine, and how he changed bodies.

    Maybe they will do the same thing as they did with Return of the Jedi when they replaced the old Anakin Skywalker with the new horrible one played by Haden Christensen. All they will do is just replace Patrick Stewart at the end of Origins Wolverine with James McVoy.

  15. Does this mean he won’t be playing Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit?

    Damn.

  16. I love James McAvoy. While obviously no one can top Patrick Stewart, I found his reverse aging a distraction at the end of “Wolverine.” You know that’s not actually what Patrick Stewart looked like when he was younger?

    Just like in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” when Brad Pitt was made to look younger, I saw him when he really was that age in “Thelma and Louise” and he didn’t look anything like what’s acting on the screen.

    McAvoy will blow us all out of the water. He can’t help it — he’s just amazing that way.

  17. No one has yet brought up the fact that he looks too young to play Xavier opposite the teens that will play the x-men.

  18. I still think that this film is a disasterous idea. X-men 3 sucked, Origins Wolverine was beyond TERRIBLE, and I think that thsi will follow along the same lines. Even if itis good I still dont care. I mean who cares about hwo the X-Men came together? This is just a dumb idea. I hope that this fails

    • If it sells, which is likely will, the plan is for a franchise out of this (another trilogy).

      If you’re an X-Men fan, then you may also be excited to hear that there’s a lot of talk about the character of Cable and hence, time travel which could tie into the First Class movie(s) and later in X-Men 4.

      Lots of potential.

      • Yes, Cable can go back and cure Jean before she goes Dark Phoenix and killing that boy who gave humans that so-called mutant cure (or just rescuing him from the humans), thus erasing X-Men 3. Then X-Men 3 can be done right with Apocalypse.

        • But wait a minute, Cable is the son of Cyclops and the cloned Jean Grey (both of which are dead). Maybe they can use Bishop instead.

          • Cable is the son of Cyclops and M. Pryor IN THE COMICS, so that means nothing when it comes to the movies as we know.

            Cable could be the son of Emma and Cyclops in the movie universe (That’s been my production for well over a year, anyway).

            • I actually like it better that way. It just seems… tidier. The ‘son-of-a-clone’ thing always seemed needless to me.

  19. James is one of my all-time favorite so I can’t wait to see him play this role. Bit I assume it’s the younger Charles?

  20. @ Rob Keyes…. is James going to take over Patrick Stewart’s Professor X that we saw in Wolverine or is it a younger portrayed Charles Xavier because it is kinda stupid that Patrick is already shown as the Professor leading into the First Class element at he end of Wolverine. What do you have to say?

    • I agree and that’s the problem I’m having with this.

      McAvoy is too young for what we can expect are late teenage versions of the X-Men.

      I liked the idea of Patrick Stewart playing the role again because this isn’t that many years before the first X-Men and he is supposed to act as a father figure.

      We don’t yet know, but perhaps they’re combining the X-Men Origins: Magneto story elements into this movie with a big part of the movie in the past with young Erik, young Charles and later we see Stewart and the X-Men? Just a random theory but McAvoy’s pretty big and they want a new franchise out of this soo….

      • It’s easier to make an actor look older (McAvoy) than it is to make one look younger (Stewart).

        If Singer has a say, maybe they’ll ignore X3 and Wolverine like Singer did Supes 3 and 4 when he made Superman Returns

  21. How can you have an X-men firs class without two of my favorite and iconic X-men Beast and Angel???? unless of course they are gonna put Beast into the avengers…i will boycott this movie if they dont use the original characters.

    • Beast is going to be part of First Class but Angel is definitely not because in the timeline, they don’t meet him until X3… sadly

  22. Its a terrible idea to add anything or anyone into an X-men first class prequel story…other than the original characters. all your gonna do is confuse movie audiences even more and piss off the fans.

    I have a hard time with adding in characters just because its cool. WOuld love to see Bishop and Cable in an X-men movie: but they dont belong in a prequel movie…terrible idea.

    • I agree.

      • I agree as well. I’ve been boycotting X-Men based films since X-3. Fox Studios & Bryan Singer aren’t really interested in respecting MARVELS’ original source material or in bringing any of those concepts to screen.

        They are rather intent on bringing their own convoluted ideas and presenting an adaptation that they say is based on the comic book but in reality is only a very vague depiction of those books.

        They will go with what they think is cool and where they perceive the majority of their revenue will come from, i.e the teen market.

        • What makes me shutter is what Panda said above what if they retcon the heil out of it? Hey their not below having two separate continuities either. Who knows what kind of Frankenstein monster these spin doctors have cooked up? MSTK caliber with flesh crawling modern B movie effects! I’m a no show at this show. I’m afraid of getting trampled by the crowd fleeing the theater…

  23. Very good news and a very interesting choice!!!!

  24. i can wait

  25. Unforturnately whether or not I agree with them making yet another horrible Xmen movie, I will still watch it to see how bad they screwed up. Honestly it doens’t matter who they cast for which character, they will still slaughter the whole idea of the xmen. Granted Stewart will forever be ProfX BUT no matter how superb of a job he did playing that part it still doesn’t take away from the fact that all 4 movies(as of now) was the worst rendition of the xmen possible. I understand that sometimes hollywood needs to spice some things up an add some things to make the movie appeal to everyone for money. But why must they go so far away from the original idea, that apparently wasn’t that bad because not only did it stand the test of time but make plenty of movie spawning games, cartoons, apparel an a whole occult following. So after all of this is the point that “who cares who will play who”. Does it really matter until they decide to do a reboot and listen to the fans for once? I say let them cast vern troyer.

  26. Physically McAvoy is okay I think. We all know he can act… real good but no one has mentioned the age thing. First movie, Cyclops and Jean were 33 to 36. Professor Xavier from the looks of Patrick Stewart was about 62-65. McAvoy is about 30 years old, that means first class are babies. DUH!

  27. If Singer is involved in this movie. DO NOT PAY TO SEE THIS.