James McAvoy gets it

James McAvoy is recounting his favourite Soccer Aid memory as the nail technician applies a layer of clear strengthener to the gnawed-down nubs where his fingernails should be. “We’re winning 3-1 in the 90th minute, and José [Mourinho] goes, ‘I want you to get into the centre circle and go down like you’ve been shot’,” he says. “‘No matter what, you do not move an inch until we fucking drag you off that pitch, and you take your time getting off.’” McAvoy is a stalwart of the charity football competition, but the year Mourinho coached the World XI felt different. He got something that every fan covets – a direct insight into the José Mourinho school of shithousery. Back in 2006 when he was filming Atonement in Redcar, North Yorkshire, he had seen a group of Chelsea players – who were staying in the same hotel ahead of a game against Middlesbrough – doing keepy-uppies in a circle, with the manager in the middle making them all laugh. It gave him clarity on that increasingly elusive hold he has on his players. “I could see why they’d run through walls for him,” McAvoy says. When the time came, he did what he was told and they saw the game out, the Mourinho way. Now, a photo of the coach whispering “dark arts” into his ear sits framed in his home. “It’s my proudest footballing moment.” We’re on our second, not-complimentary, glass of prosecco in a Waitrose-tier nail salon in Islington on one of those gross, worryingly hot days in early August. The aforementioned nail tech, Rebecca, is politely pretending not to know who McAvoy is, and pretending, less convincingly, not to eavesdrop. “Are you from Scotland?” she asks at one point. Aye. McAvoy wanted to go for mani-pedis because the feeling of the strengthener on his teeth alone is enough to stop him from stress-chewing his nails to bits, which he tends to do absentmindedly while watching Celtic matches. And, he says, his kids like it when he gets his toenails painted. And, let’s be honest, it feels nice.

James McAvoy gets it

Via: GQ UK