James McAvoy Reveals How He Prepared To Play 23 Different Characters In ‘Split’

Split, James McAvoy
Universal Pictures

James McAvoy turned to YouTube to research the everyday lives of multiple personality disorder sufferers for new movie Split after failing to find anyone willing to talk to him.

The X-Men: First Class star portrays a man with 23 different personalities in the M. Night Shyamalan film, and while he was able to talk to doctors about the condition, their patients were not interested in sitting down with McAvoy so he could witness their disorder first hand.

“I spent a bit of time with some medical professionals, that was handy to an extent,” he told U.S. breakfast show Today.

“What I really needed was to spend time with people with the ID (identity disorder), (but) I couldn’t find anybody that would sit and talk with me, unfortunately.”

Instead, the Scottish actor had to rely on video blogs posted by sufferers on YouTube to perfect his movie characters.

He continued, “What I did find really useful was diaries, really just for the day-to-day ins and outs of what it’s like to live with ID, and then vloggers (video bloggers), people who vlog. I found that YouTube was an incredible tool for people with the ID and a platform for them to project themselves positively into the world.”

James didn’t have much time to prepare for the demanding role, because he wasn’t Shyamalan’s first choice as the movie’s lead.

“I came quite late in the day; I think Joaquin Phoenix was going to do it,” he recently said. “But then I stepped in at the last minute because Joaquin pulled out.”