James McAvoy was born on 21 April 1979, in Glasgow, United Kingdom. He is the son of psychiatric nurse Elizabeth (née Johnstone; died 2018) and bus driver James McAvoy, Sr. McAvoy's parents divorced when he was just seven years old. In the aftermath, he and his mother would go to live with his grandparents in Glasgow's housing projects. McAvoy's mother suffered from poor health and subsequently sent him to live with his maternal grandparents, Mary, and James Johnstone, in the nearby Drumchapel area of Glasgow. They instilled a strong work ethic in the youngster and gave him a steady upbringing. His mother lived with them intermittently. McAvoy has a sister, Joy, and a younger half-brother, Donald. He has not been in contact with his father since childhood.