How James McAvoy Survived and Thrived in High Heels in Split

James McAvoy from Split
James McAvoy from Split

James McAvoy Tested His Acting Chops and Feet in Split

It was bad enough to have at least 23 personalities. But did one have to walk in heels?

In “Split,” James McAvoy put his feet as well as his acting chops to the test as a lunatic kidnapper with a multiple personality disorder in “Split,” channeling all sorts of people, male and female, including his favorite, Patricia, whom he describes as an “ever-so-slightly kinky nun.”

“She was difficult partly because I wanted her to be kind of funny as well but not too over the top,” McAvoy tells Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar. “But she had to be a little bit over the top because she’s enjoying her time in the light. She is slightly performing as well.”

James McAvoy Gets No Sympathy from Women on Split Set

It was Patricia’s wardrobe that posed the biggest challenge.

“I hated wearing heels,” he says. “I didn’t really expect it to be that painful. I had to do it for one other film once, just for like a night. It was fine. It kind of left me. But for this I had to wear heels a lot and it’s really painful.”

Any hopes of sympathy from female colleagues were quickly dashed.

“I kept getting told by the women on set that I was wearing very comfortable heels,” McAvoy says. “And I was just like: You have to be kidding me. These are comfortable? And that did weirdly make playing the character quite difficult.”

James McAvoy Reveals His Favorite Personality from Split

His favorite personality was that of a 9-year-old boy named Hedwig. “Just because I got to be so goofy with him,” he says, “and I got to do bad dancing and I got to do that sincere childlike thing of thinking you’re really cool when you’re not.”

Director M. Night Shyamalan kept a tight rein on the actors, warning them not to veer from the script that he also wrote, which meant McAvoy had to focus on filling in the gaps between the lines.

“I did a lot of physical stuff,” he says. “I like to create and I like to make stuff up on set. Most film directors on sets are actually encouraging you to do that a little bit. Night  is the opposite. If I managed to get in an extra line or something, it was a big moment. I knew he loved it if I got anything in. So, yeah, I was off to physically and mugging that way.”