Vanity Fair: “Its about how you deal with fear, how you respond to it, how you can conquer it,” says Theo James of the movie DIVERGENT, opening March 21st, based on Veronica Roth’s 2011 novel of the same name. The 29 year old James stars as Four (or Tobias), opposite Shailene Woodley’s Tris.
“The movie’s set in Chicago in a post-global-war dystopian future, and I’m the male head of Dauntless [initiate training], one of five factions,” James continues.
A graduate of England’s University of Nottingham, with a degree in philosophy, and later trained at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre School, James wanted to bring “a quiet masculinity, a Paul Newman sense of a leader with stillness,” to the role. “Tris breaks the mold; she doesnt fit into one category. There is a plot to wipe out ‘divergent’s’, so it’s about her desperate bid for survival and how you split people into different ways of thinking. It’s not just a love story.”
Director Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) says of James, “He is that rare thing: a true leading man. I needed a real man to play opposite Shailene, who’s a fierce, strong actress, and Theo has a powerful presence; if he takes a step forward, you take a step back. He plays a badass fighter, he’s incredibly tough, but in the slightest movement or gesture, there’s vulnerability.”
James (who had a brief but memorable appearance as Mr Pamuk in Season One of Downton Abbey) says he “clicked friendship- and chemistry-wise with Shailene immediately, so we kept that anchor of human nature in each scene.”