Scottish independence:McAvoy to stay out of debate

ONE of the nation’s leading acting talents has vowed to steer clear of the debate on Scottish independence - saying it would be “counter-productive” to his work.

James McAvoy: refused to say if he was in favour or against independence. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

James McAvoy, who refused to say if he was in favour or against independence, has also warned against actors getting too closely involved with politicians.

The Glasgow-born actor said he did not think it would be “helpful” to get involved with the debate - despite a group of leading Scottish artists forming their own campaign for independence.

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The star, who is eligible to vote in the referendum as he still has a home in Scotland, was speaking as he unveiled his new film Filth, in which he plays a corrupt Edinburgh detective battling a string of personal demons.

He told The Scotsman that audience perceptions of him on screen could change if he decided to express an opinion on the independence debate.

He added: “I don’t want to hear what an actor thinks about the world.”

McAvoy has become the latest high-profile Scottish figure to vow to steer clear of the debate, following the likes of Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy and Billy Connolly.

However other big-name Scottish actors like Brian Cox, Alan Cumming and Elaine C Smith are official backers of the Yes Scotland campaign.

Mcavoy, 34, who has previously criticised the “sensational” plot of Braveheart, said he agreed with Billy Connolly’s recent declaration that it is not the place of celebrities to tell people how to vote.

The comic said earlier this year: “I think there is an arrogance involved when you are telling people how to vote. I don’t think that’s our place. Other people might think completely differently – that’s a personal thing.”

McAvoy said: “I won’t be getting involved at all. It’s just counter-productive to my job, it’s not what I do, and I don’t think it’s helpful to have me involved in it.

“Maybe if your art does not necessitate people forgetting who you are and accepting you in a different role you can (get involved)...but I think it would be counter-productive to an audience’s appreciation or ability to enjoy or connect with what an actor is doing.

“I don’t know want to hear what an actor thinks about the world.

“Maybe if you are an artist or great philosopher, it is different, but for me, our job is about pretending to be other people.

“I don’t want to be out there being me, going: ‘This is what I think about Scotland, by the way.’

“I don’t trust a single politician out there. So why should you have people who are professionally trained to pretend out there selling these people that they don’t trust anyway.”

Last month Sir Jonathan Mills, the director of the Edinburgh International Festival, sparked controversy by saying there would be nothing directly addressing the independence debate in his swansong event next year.

Sir Jonathan later said critics had misunderstood the role of the event and insisted it was not a “political apparatus.”

Other leading artists in favour of independence include Scotland’s makar Liz Lochhead, singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, playwright David Greig and novelist Alan Bissett.