I remember the day I first discovered Theo James, it was a hung-over Sunday and a fluke encounter with the film Divergent on DSTV. He was just what I needed, the mysterious Four and his make-me-melt hazel eyes. Suddenly, suicide Sunday felt better again.
James is unequivocally handsome, born in Oxford to a Greek father and a British mother, his milky Mediterranean skin fronts a well-heeled English accent that would make any woman swoon. The youngest of five siblings, James earned a degree in philosophy before studying acting at the British Old Vic Theatre School. You might remember him from his early career days as dreamy Turkish diplomat, Kemal Pamuk, who died of a heart attack while bonking Lady Mary in Downton Abbey. Now, with 10 films under his belt, and two Teen Choice Award wins for his role alongside Shailene Woodley in the film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s dystopian sci-fi novels, The Divergent Series, James has become something of a fixture on the Hollywood circuit.
Although he flits in and out of Los Angeles, London is where James calls home, and staying grounded is high on his priority list. ËMy biggest challenges are having time to see family and friends, and also trying to keep in perspective what is important and what is not important. Because at the end of the day, you have to be mindful of who and what is important and sometimes you can get lost in the fun and the glamour, but it is essentially meaningless. What is real is the moment you are living in now, and your relationships and your family – they are the things that are lasting. Any material things and wealth are transient and don’t last,’ he says.
One way in which James keeps a level head in the slurry of celebdom is by staying well away from the ills of social media. Notoriously silent when it comes to the likes of Twitter and Instagram, tap in his name and you’ll come across a host of fake accounts. ËI think it is important to keep that home and work boundary. Because otherwise you mush into this kind of pseudo-celebrity world and that is not something I am interested in… Trying too hard I think that is a big turnoff and having to share and shout about everything.’ Instead, James values real, human connections. ËIf someone has done something, say, you are in Mexico, right? It’s interesting to find that out through conversation rather than having to be shown it via you showing me a picture of you on a lovely beach in Mexico.’
Despite his aversion to social media James has not succeeded in staying under the radar. This year, he landed his first fragrance campaign with Hugo Boss as the face of Boss The Scent. ËTo me the brand is quite classic and masculine and there is a coolness to it. But it’s also more reflective of my own perception of masculinity, a little bit of old school. Someone who steps back from the crowd and has a mystery about them.’ That said, maleness is not something that can be categorised or forced; from his father, theo james loves…
Old cars Riding motorcycles A good pair of sunglasses Books (he has just finished Savage Harvest) The Godfather Part I Irish actor Brendan Gleason Boxing
Singing and playing guitar to Alexander McQueen and Bond star Sean Connery, these are men James looks up to and reveres. ËThey are able to be seated in their own terms of self in their masculinity, rather than having to ram it down someone’s throat with biceps and chanting voices.’
Old Hollywood icons such as Paul Newman and Connery embody style and elegance for James, but his ultimate style icon is his grandfather, who he talks about with fond words, reminiscing about a photograph from when he was in the navy in the Ë30s. The vintage frame shows him walking down the street wearing an impeccably tailored suit, with a pocket square, his hair done immaculately and his smile is bright, capturing the camera lens. ËTo me, that always strikes off something personal and very poignant in terms of style, I think it looks very cool.’ And a well-cut suit and classic, casual items that stand the test of time, like jeans and a bowler jacket are James’ closet go-tos. He feels naked without something on his wrist and has worn a watch since he was eight years old. ËThe way you dress definitely has an effect on confidence. If you feel good and if you feel sharp then that is going to reflect how you come across,’ he says. As for grooming (and let’s be honest he doesn’t need much), James’ approach is minimal – a good sharp shaving ritual with some after balm suffices, a practice he learned to appreciate from when he was a student travelling in Mexico and he experienced the type of close shave, finished off by a palm pat-down with lemon juice. That, and a casual dose of six times weekly training including his great love, boxing, heavy weights and explosive start sprinting, make up James’ regime for staying in shape.