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Theo James on Home, Family, Franchises, Having a Plan and Choosing the Right Roles

In a recent interview with Scotsman, we were able to get a little insight into the man that is Theo James, his thought process and the things that are important to him. I’ve summarized key points tackled during that interview below, but by all means check out the full interview HERE.

On actors having a plan of action, filming a franchise (like Divergent) and choosing the right roles, he said:

“Anyone in this business who says they always had a plan is talking complete bollocks because that’s impossible. That’s just not the nature of what it is. Not even the greatest actors who have ever lived, not every part of their career have they been able to pick and choose. But at the end of the day I think you do things you enjoy doing. And when you’re trying to start a career you choose things or take things which pay the bills and you hope it develops and you have to be smarter, and it’s then that the plan starts forming more clearly.”
“You have to be smarter especially with these kinds of movies because as great as they are and they do open lots of doors and they’re very fun, you do have to think carefully about what you do in between. It’s a long journey and I think it’s easy to get swept up being something cool of the moment but what really lays your foundations for your career is the harder stuff.”
“With anything you have to create a bit of elbow space, but then there’s an element of what comes up and what feels right at the time. At the moment, working on the franchise means you’ve got a very specific period in between each film, which is relatively small because you have to do a month of press as well. So at the moment it’s about using those slots as well as I can to choose things that are different, to try to show a part of me that’s not been seen. That sounds so f***ing boring.”

On where home is and the importance of family to him, he answers:

“Here [London, as opposed to Los Angeles]. Pretty much here. Well, a bit of both but here is my spiritual home. Here is where my family live and where my friends from uni are.”
“Family is very important. We’re a jokingly cynical family. I remember my eldest brother, the first time I wrote a song when I was about 13. It was really cheesy. I sat him down and I had my guitar and I opened my heart. I finished the song, which was f***ing terrible, and they all just burst out laughing. He still takes the piss out of me now, he calls it ‘Why?’. It was like why do I feel these things or something like that. You can’t take this stuff too seriously. If you start taking yourself or it too seriously I think it can be damaging. One thing that’s fascinating psychologically is to watch other people and how they do it.”

On Shailene Woodley and picking up where their characters left off in the first film, he offers:

“She’s great”
“On the one hand it makes it much easier. On the other you have to make sure you don’t become lazy or complacent. You have to keep reminding yourselves to be on your toes. One thing Shai and I found is that when you come back after a year at first you think it’s fine because we’ve done the characters, it’s all good, and then you get on set and you do that first scene and it’s like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t just come back, you’ve got to get into gear’.”

When asked what it was like joining a big franchise, ne replied:

“Whirlwind. In some ways it’s definitely something that you haven’t experienced before when you do these press tours and you step out, you need to psychologically prepare yourself at least a little bit because if you’re a bit hungover and tired the screaming is…” [shakes his head]

About whether this experience can change him, he said:

“It’s not like I go to trendy parties, it’s not particularly my thing, not that there’s anything wrong with it. I don’t think it needs to change you unless you want it to. Unless you’re f***ing Brad Pitt and then you definitely can’t go to Costa coffee to pick up a frappucino. It’s my job, I do it and then I go home and hang out with my mates. I don’t need to mix the two.”

About whether acting was the job he always wanted and if it turned out as he expected, he said:

“In some ways yes, and in some ways no. The job is what I expected it to be in a good way – it’s very gratifying and it’s challenging. Getting into a part is really fun – you have to go quite deep and there’s a lot of research to be done. To be honest, one thing that’s tricker is what’s happening now with how connected we are globally is the blurring of the lines between being an actor as your job and being a celebrity. That is tricky. Some people embrace it, some people like it and props to them if it works for them. But it can be a bit difficult because at the end of the day all this other stuff is irrelevant, it’s my job. You never want to perceive yourself through anyone else’s eyes and whether that’s the media of a social thing, or someone coming up to you in a bar. You want to maintain the fact that it’s a job, that’s what it is.”

On his fans and whether he is aware of how invested they are, he replies:

“You definitely don’t want to f*** it up. I think it’s great that they’re reading, but really when you’re doing a film that’s an adaptation of the book you do the prep and then you know the character and you decide on how you’re going to play it and that’s it. You can’t be too informed by other people.”

So, what did Theo James read when he was a teenager?

“The Hobbit,” he says. “Young Adult fiction didn’t really exist when I was that age. When you were younger you read Hardy Boys or The Famous Five and I remember reading a whole series of ghoul and ghost stories when I was about 10. But then it was The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and then on to books for adults.”