Interview: ‘Hugo Boss’ Ambassador Theo James Talks Scents
Theo is also the face of Hugo Boss’ latest fragrance for men, named BOSS THE SCENT. This marks the actor’s first fragrance campaign, as he joins the ranks of Gerard Butler and Gwyneth Paltrow as ambassadors for Hugo Boss’ fragrances. Like his Divergent character, who actually encapsulates the best qualities of all the factions in the movie, Theo also sees BOSS THE SCENT as a winning mixture.
“It is a mix of going back to the classic sense of male mystery and masculinity,” he said. “It has a very strong evocative smell but with an ability to feel subtle at the same time. I have worn it many times and the really interesting thing about it is that it develops on your skin with a very masculine tone and there is also something very specific and evocative about it with a touch of almost something exotic.”
Theo reckons the “very evocative smell” of BOSS THE SCENT stems from many elements, not least the fact that one of its ingredients, maninka fruit, mixed with masculine, strong woody tones, has the ability to adapt and mature on a person’s skin.
“Somehow it gives almost a singular identity with each person that makes it very unique,” he said, adding that he is open to wearing a fragrance, because it indubitably boosts one’s confidence and completes the outfit.
“I wear it consistently but sporadically. You don’t need to wear it every day,” the soft-spoken actor elaborated. “I think it should be reserved for events when you are going out or when you are wanting to feel good and confident. But it’s also good to wear a single one consistently, because that becomes a little bit a part of your identity and your smell and people recognise you for that.”
For Theo, BOSS THE SCENT brings to mind an eclectic league of notable names in the entertainment and film industry. “It reminds me of people, from Sean Connery’s Bond to Steve McQueen to somebody else great such as Paul Newman. They all had a great sense of style and a great sense of the relaxed attitude,” he said.
But while he is becoming a regular fixture in the Hollywood scene, Theo has no plans to move to Los Angeles permanently, insisting that London is still his base.
His family and friends still live in the United Kingdom and he will rattle of his list of favourite hang-outs in London if you so ask. For the record: Must-visit places include the National Portrait Gallery, a mixed martial arts venue in Islington for a spot of boxing, the Little Ivy restaurant in North London and his “go-to pub” called The Albion.
His British-ness does make him feel a little “divergent” in Tinseltown at times.
“Americans are very welcoming and positive. So it is easy in that way. It is quite fun. You have to keep your head on your shoulders, but it is good,” said the Oxford-born thespian.
“Americans are forward-moving, for better or worse. So in a good way they are very positive, they are very outgoing and they are pushing forward. But maybe, in a not-so-good way, they can be a little bit pushy. They can be too forward at times.
“Whereas a British person has his weight on the back foot, which means — in a good way — he is kind of taking some time, taking a beat against the ground, waiting and not having to speak.”
Not that it is likely to bother him too much: Theo is quite comfortable with his own skin and being his own man.
While almost everyone is jumping onto the social media bandwagon, Theo does not see the need to follow the crowd. He does not even have his own online presence.
“I don’t want to bash social media because I think there are lots of good things that come from it and lots of my friends use it and tell me there is nothing wrong with it,” he stated.
“Trying too hard … and having to share and shout about everything — I think that is a big turn-off for me.”
(His minders also stipulated in no uncertain terms that no photos and selfies were to be taken with him — and of him — during our time with him.)
But what does grate on him is not having had the opportunity to dabble in music for a while.
“I love music and I haven’t had the chance to do any music for nearly two years,” said Theo, who used to be the singer and guitarist of the London-based band Shere Khan(We really miss his music and can’t wait to hear more) . “I miss that feeling. I would like to get back to it but it is very difficult. You can’t just sit down and instantly write songs or get people together. You kind of need some time to write and to think about it. I haven’t had that recently, so I miss and regret that I haven’t had the time for it.”
Time is a precious commodity for Theo. Apart from the Divergent films, he appears in The Benefactor (Franny), a 2015 movie written and directed by Andrew Renzi and starring Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning, about a philanthropist’s relationship with a newly married couple as he tries to recreate his past.
Theo is also part of a star-studded cast that includes Billy Bob Thornton and Johnny Depp in the film London Fields, which is slated for release next year.
His hectic lifestyle means he has little time for anything else, which is why smells hold particular significance to him.
“Humans are kind of programmed, in a way, that the smells evoke very strong memories,” said Theo. “There are moments to my past that are 100 per cent linked to smell. Smells, being such a specific kind of evocative thing, translate very directly to a certain time. I still remember fragrances that I used many years ago and I remember fragrances of ex-girlfriends from back in the day. Someone would be walking down the street and I am like, ‘Why do I recognise that?’
“I think how you smell is very important. I think it becomes a part of you as a person and people recognise you for that smell.”