James McAvoy Once Passed out While Filming a Torture Scene That Felt Too Real

Occasionally, acting can be a dangerous job. Some actors may become so involved in certain scenes it might pose a physical threat to their wellbeing. This was the case for X-Men star James McAvoy, who had a very real reaction to a torture scene that made him pass out.

James McAvoy injured himself while doing stunts for ‘IT: Chapter 2’

James McAvoy posing in a suit.
James McAvoy | Mike Marsland/WireImage

McAvoy is used to injuring himself while on set. Fairly recently, the actor found himself wounded during filming for IT: Chapter 2. There, McAvoy executed his own stunts, which had disastrous results for the Wanted star.

“We did this whole scene, rocks falling on our hands. I thought it’d be super awesome if I smashed down on my knees. It was brilliant. The director said ‘Cut, it is perfect. Do it again,’” McAvoy recalled on Conan. “And unfortunately we did it like 29 times and I pulled my quads, and got tendinitis in my knee.”

McAvoy then revealed he spent six months with tendinitis in his knee. According to Ain’t It Cool News, M. Night Shyamalan also revealed that McAvoy once broke his hand on the set of Split.

“He got upset and he hit the door, which he thought was a fake door, but it was a solid metal door,” Shyamalan shared. “He hit it and he broke his hand, but we didn’t realize it.”

James McAvoy once passed out after a realistic torture scene

McAvoy recalled a harrowing experience where he was being tortured in the film The Last King of Scotland. In the scene in question, McAvoy’s character is hanging on meat hooks. But in addition to taking a physical toll on the actor, it took a psychological toll as well. One of the reasons the scene had been so hard to shoot was because of a real-life tragedy in the UK.

“The torture scene was the hardest day of the shoot,” McAvoy told Artisan News Service. “Because we had a bombing in London, and nobody could get through to family and friends and loved ones. It was terrifying. At the same time, we had to film this ridiculous torture scene which felt so wrong at the time. But we had to do it, so we did it.”

What made the torture scene even harder was that director Kevin Macdonald didn’t want McAvoy screaming in the scene. This led to the Split star showing his character’s pain in another way.

“We did the first take, and I passed out completely. In the script it said something like, ‘Nicholas refuses to scream even though he’d been tortured. And I thought, I don’t think he’s that strong a person inside,” McAvoy said, referring to his character. “So I thought, ‘How could I not scream? If I don’t breathe, because I’m in so much pain, then I won’t be able to actually scream. Because there’s no breath to vocalize it.”

Between the bombings in the back of his mind, and him holding his breath, McAvoy would pass out during the take.

James McAvoy also almost passed out on ‘Watership Down’

History nearly repeated itself for McAvoy when he found himself almost fainting in a later film. In Watership Down, he plays a rabbit in an animated adventure about a group of rabbits searching for a home. McAvoy made animal noises so much that it nearly took a toll on him.

“I’ve almost passed out a couple of times,” McAvoy said according to Independent.

His co-stars in the film also found voicing rabbits to be fulfilling and, at times, even challenging. Actor Gemma Arterton, who works with McAvoy in the film, found playing a rabbit liberating.

“You have to do this pass, it’s like an ‘effort pass’, which is where you record, ‘oh, you’re running away from a cat now and you’re sniffing the air, and you’re running away from a seagull’, and you just have to be a child really,” Arterton shared. “And it’s always fun, you always do it at the end because you might hurt your voice because you have to scream and things like that, but it’s actually quite liberating – you just have to let yourself be a complete idiot.”

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