James McAvoy on Learning of 'Split' Twist, Prospect of Joining Another Franchise

The star of M. Night Shyamalan's hit thriller says the film works without the surprise ending.
'Split'   |   Courtesy of Universal Pictures
The star of M. Night Shyamalan's hit thriller says the film works without the surprise ending.

[Warning: The following story contains spoilers from M. Night Shyamalan's Split.]

In the final minutes of M. Night Shyamalan's Split, viewers become aware that the new movie about a kidnapper with multiple personalities, played by James McAvoy, is connected to one of Shyamalan's earlier films.

A well-timed surprise cameo from Bruce Willis reveals that Split exists in the same world as Unbreakable. At a recent press screening, that moment earned cheers from the audience.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, McAvoy was reluctant to divulge too many spoilers, but he did talk in vague terms about the twist, revealing that he learned about it as he was making the film. He added that he thinks the movie works without the surprise ending.

"When I first read the script, that wasn't there, so I actually didn't know there was ever going to be anything like that," McAvoy said of the Unbreakable ending. "When we were rehearsing the film, [Shyamalan] revealed to me the fact that the character I would be playing was originally a character in one of his other films, and it just didn't work in that film. And he always wanted to make a film in which this character featured heavily. I then became aware of it. But when I originally read the script and accepted the role, I thought it was a stand-alone thing. And that's true of the film as well. Yeah, it's got a thing at the end that transforms everything you've seen before, but I think the film stands without it, and it benefits from having it, definitely, but I don't think it relies upon it."

The twist being left out of the script is consistent with Shyamalan even leaving it out of test screenings of his film. But after keeping Split's connections to Unbreakable under wraps for years, the filmmaker told THR that he would be interested in both a proper Unbreakable sequel and a film "that combines the two."

So if Split has kick-started a franchise, how would McAvoy, who recently wrapped up three X-Men films, feel about joining another series?

"If it's good material, I don't mind if it's a franchise," he said. "If it's good work and I'm getting to work with good people and I'm getting to do interesting things with my day, then yeah, I'm bang up for it. I don't care if it's a franchise or not. I'm all up for a good old franchise if it is a good old franchise."