The Real Reason James McAvoy Loses Roles in Hollywood

James McAvoy is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood. Most filmmakers would be happy to work with him. However, there is one reason why he was consistently denied parts: his height.

James McAvoy | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

James McAvoy’s career limited by his height

Although James McAvoy might not have as much name recognition as some of his contemporaries, there’s a very good chance that you’ve seen at least one of his films. His big break came in 2005 when he played Mr. Tumnus in the film version of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Since then, he’s made appearances in Atonement, the X-Men movies, Split, and It Chapter 2.

McAvoy stands 5 ft 7 in tall, meaning he’s not particularly tall or short. Despite this, an actress once made it clear to him she thought he wasn’t tall enough to act opposite her. While he didn’t name the actress, he was open about his feelings. Cinema Blend reported he said “I was like, ‘All right, now I’ve got to pretend that I really like you for eight more weeks. This is going to be really tough, because you’re so far up yourself.’ It got really interesting, that relationship.”

James McAvoy in Hollywood, California | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Some filmmakers also felt he wasn’t tall enough to cast in their projects. “As a shorter man, I sometimes get told I’m too short for a role. Or even when I get a role, I’m made to feel like, well, of course, we’re going to have to do something about that… because nobody would believe [the character] would be with someone like her. That was a kick in the nuts.” He added “Sometimes you’re made to feel like you’re not good-looking enough to get a role.”

Tom Cruise faces the same challenge

McAvoy is certainly not the first actor to lose out on roles because of his height. Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher, a famous character created by author Lee Child. Some fans of Child’s work objected to Cruise’s casting on the grounds he is not as tall as the character is in Child’s novels.

Child himself agreed with the fans and decided the role should be recast in the upcoming reboot of the Jack Reacher franchise. The BBC reported Child said “I really enjoyed working with Cruise. He’s a really, really nice guy. We had a lot of fun. But ultimately the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is.”

The author added “The idea is that when Reacher walks into a room, you’re all a little nervous just for that first minute. And Cruise, for all his talent, didn’t have that physicality. So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom Cruise. Instead we’re going to take it to Netflix or something like that. Long form streaming television, with a completely new actor.”

McAvoy and Crusie triumph

James McAvoy at the 91st Annual Academy Awards | Dan MacMedan/Getty Images

Although it was probably disheartening for McAvoy and Cruise to learn that they were denied rules based on their physicality, they can at least take heart in the fact that they are two of the most successful actors in the Western world. The two actors serve as inspirations to millions across the world for playing heroic characters like Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible film series and Professor Xavier from the X-Men film series.