INTERVIEW: Theo James On Cologne, Hydration, And Staying In Shape
Today is our day THEOlogians! It’s almost like an overload of Hugo Boss videos, stills and news. Just when you think it’s all done, we get another article about Theo James 🙂 (that’s our favorite kind)
Details caught up with James at the Greenwich Hotel earlier this summer to get his take on men’s cologne, his upcoming projects, and why Italian opera makes the perfect soundtrack for a plane flight.
What’s the first cologne you remember wearing?
Hmmm, I don’t actually remember the first cologne I wore, but I remember there was a deodorant called, like, Red Rock or something like that when I was 16, and all the kids were wearing it, thinking it was very sexy and cool. In retrospect, it smelled awful. It was called Red Rock, and it was not good, but I remember thinking that it would entice the ladies. It was one of those kinds of scents that were surfing around; it seemed to be what young punks were supposed to be wearing to entice a certain type of girl.
Why did you decide to partner with Hugo Boss for its new scent?
Hugo Boss is a huge international brand, but I remember growing up in England, and I was quite well versed in them. You see these very masculine, quite slick campaigns, the Hugo Boss guy, there was a certain kind of cool to it as a young person growing up, which I liked. Also, I like the classic masculinity: It’s quite firm, it’s quite iconic, it’s quite old-school in that way, which is a little bit like me. I’m more that kind of person.
I grew up with a very cool, masculine dad, and my grandfather was similar, he was very stylish, and that’s kind of what appealed to me. And now Boss is pushing the boundaries a little bit from what they’re used to doing, and they’re very good at doing stylish and sleek and successful, but with this there’s this kind of element of seduction, it’s one of the words they’re using and it’s true, there’s a kind of dark nature to the campaign, there’s mystery and the richness of what that kind of masculinity means.
How often do you wear it?
I wear it sporadically. I don’t think you need to wear it every day. I think it should be reserved for events, when you’re going out, or you want to feel good and confident out. It’s also good to wear a single one consistently, because then that becomes part of your identity, your smell, and people kind of pair you with that.
How was it shooting the campaign?
As an actor, it can be daunting in a way, because it’s very different than what you’d be doing normally. Usually you have a character and a script and you’re basing yourself on that. So I didn’t really know exactly what to expect, but in fact it was very easy and very fun. I think Darren Aronofsky being a film director really helped. The kind of shorthand was already there, and it kind of felt like it was a familiar set to be on—he made it very easy, so it was kind of fun. You have to play a part a little bit to ground it, otherwise you’re just wandering around.
Tell us about the projects you’ve got coming up.
London Fields was really interesting to do. It’s had a long gestation period—we filmed it in 2013, and it’s coming out this year. It’s quite conceptual, it’s a little bit of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in terms of style and heightened realness. But it was good, you know, it’s a classic story of the beautiful femme fatale who basically manipulates these three very different men and kind of drives them in different ways to murder, which is very cool.
And then The Secret Scripture, which was based on a very lyrical book. It’s a very complex character study with some great actors, including Rooney Mara. That was fun as well because it’s playing a very different character, an Irish priest in the forties, couldn’t be further from who I play in Fields, but it’s kind of fun to play these polar opposites.
How do you even go about playing a priest?
You’ve gotta go pretty deep, basically, you can’t half-ass it. I always start with reading the period stuff, and that seems to be history and novels, and then just visiting the places that the story took place and kind of connect that way. I was reading about Irish Catholic priests and talking to them about how they became priests and what are the problems they deal with, what they love about it.
And what about the big tentpole, Allegiant?
We’re filming that now. That’s why I’m stopping off here in New York. We’re about four weeks into filming. It’s really a challenge, in a good way. On a physical level, I have to kind of get back into shape. I was working on a different movie where I was playing a drug addict, and you can’t be Mister Gym playing those kind of characters, the forties priest and the drug addict, and then when you come back to this franchise and you kind of have to put a bit of work in, should we say? But it’s fun. It’s familiar, and it’s fun. Atlanta is hot as fuck, though.
And grooming picks you’ve picked up in the makeup chair?
Ah, yeah, I’d say one is, if you’re doing long hours and you’re beginning to look tired, drink water, because if you don’t hydrate yourself, it can make you look more like shit. I’ve been told that several times on movie sets.
And the other thing: Someone told me that too much salt as well is bad, because I don’t know, I guess your face swells up? I don’t actually cut back on salt, but I thought it was an interesting fact.
It sounds like you’re flying a lot between movies. What keeps you busy on long trips?
I always take a few books and, of course, headphones for music. I read several books at a time, so it takes me longer to finish them. I was reading one on the plane called Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman, about the son of a Rockefeller who went missing back in Papua New Guinea. He went missing because he was an explorer, and basically this book is piecing together how he went missing, because they think that he was eaten, he was kind of . . . cannibalized, I guess the word is? It’s not really that lighthearted. And the other book, well, it’s not that lighthearted either. It’s about corruption in Russian journalism.
And what are you listening to?
I’ve always liked it, but I just got back into Coltrane again, A Love Supreme. On the plane, I like to go to with either jazz or classical music, because they have kind of an even keel, you know what I mean? I like a lot of classical stuff. On the plane over here, I was listening to some Puccini, Tosca specifically. Puccini is obviously one of the greats.