Actor James McAvoy and his wife Anne-Marie Duff are ending their nine-year marriage.

The 37-year-old X-Men star and the 45-year-old actress made the surprise announcement in a joint statement on Friday.

They wrote: “It is with tremendous sadness that we have come to the decision to divorce.”

The statement was obtained by People magazine.

The McAvoys are parents to a five-year-old son named Brendan, and they insist they are fully committed to ensuring his welfare is protected in light of their split.

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“We enter this next phase with continued friendship, love and respect for one another and the shared focus of caring for our son,” they added. “We ask that you respect our and, most importantly, our child’s privacy during this time.”

James and Anne-Marie first met in 2004 while they worked together on the British version of TV comedy Shameless. The couple married in 2006 but kept their relationship out of the press for quite some time.

The Scottish actor explained to Britain’s The Daily Record newspaper they were not interested in becoming a media “target”, adding, “We’ve been offered a hell of a lot of parts playing opposite each other in films and TV and we just turn them down,” he explained. “If you do work together you put yourself up, you make yourself a target and you make your relationship a target and all of that. We’re very keen not to do that.”

But they did team up for 2009 film "The Last Station", which also featured Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.

James’ career has changed tremendously within the past decade, as he continues to land roles in Hollywood blockbusters like the X-Men movies, "Wanted", opposite Angelina Jolie, and last year’s Victor "Frankenstein", and in an interview with Contactmusic.com, he confessed his growing international stardom had begun to take a toll on his family life.

“It’s always difficult to go away (and film a movie) as a family person,” he shared. “Paps (paparazzi) don’t really bother me. I get stopped but people are nice. I don’t mind that. I’ve never minded that. It’s just the separation of family life, relationship and child.”

PHOTO: WENN.com

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