'Divergent's' Theo James: 5 Things to Know About the Star Behind Four
Who is the 29-year-old British actor who plays the Dauntless leader? THR rounds up some little-known facts.
British actor Theo James heads into YA territory with Summit's big-screen adaptation of the best-selling novel Divergent.
In the film, arriving in theaters Friday, the 29-year-old Oxfordshire-born thespian plays Four, a mysterious and powerful Dauntless leader who helps train newcomer Tris (Shailene Woodley). Divergent may make $60 million-plus in its opening weekend after scoring $4.9 million on Thursday. Prior to Divergent, James was perhaps best known for his brief stint on period drama Downton Abbey, starring as the lead character in CBS' short-lived cop procedural Golden Boy and for British series Bedlam. A University of Nottingham graduate, James studied philosophy, and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He's also of Greek descent -- his actual surname is Taptiklis -- and is the youngest of five children.
THR rounds up some little-known facts about the Divergent star.
1. He has thoughts about his memorable Downton Abbey guest stint.
The British actor had a much talked-about one-episode appearance in the first season of Downton Abbey as Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk, who courted Lady Mary Crawley and died while they were having sex. During a recent visit to E!'s late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, James joked about the unforgettable scene: "Shit, it must have been incredible sex for him to die midway through." How did they approach the scene? "We did that method-style," James joked. "Obviously not the death, but I said that I had to do it full-on and be there in the moment, in the castle, doing it full penetration." And in a 2013 New York Times chat James wasn't into dissecting his brief run on the show, saying, "I feel slightly fraudulent reflecting on it too much because I was only in one episode, you know what I mean?"
2. He has musical sensibilities.
James was singer and guitarist for a London-based band, Shere Khan, though as of 2012, the band is no longer performing together. Some YouTube videos have surfaced showcasing James' singing voice. Check out one where he performs the song "Skin."
3. He once was mistaken for James Franco.
In a February 2013 interview, James recalled an encounter with a paparazzo who was following him. "It was fun to be human and to wave and be like, 'What's up, man?,' but [the paparazzo] was like, 'Where are you going?' And I said, 'Um, we're going for some food, why are you filming me?' He stopped and you see he was like, 'Oh shit.' He thought I was f---ing James Franco."
4. He was hesitant at first to do a YA-based adaptation.
James admitted to GQ that he had reservations about diving into a YA series, but he admitted, "I probably pretended I was reading, like, Sartre or something, but it was all Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings."
5. He reveres the classics.
As a guest editor on IMDB recently, James listed some of his favorite actors -- and the top three are of a different cinematic era: top choice Marlon Brando, Paul Newman (whom he's said he wanted to emulate in his portrayal of Four) and Steve McQueen. He said of Brando: "Marlon Brando was one of the great naturalistic actors, revolutionizing the way characters were portrayed on screen in films like On the Waterfront." Rounding out the top 10? Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Christian Bale, Geoffrey Rush and Brendan Gleeson. James' favorite movie? The 1996 film Shine starring Rush, whom James said "broke out with a transcendent performance."