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Theo James has been quite busy as of late. After wrapping the first season of Sanditon (which he also executive produced) he began promoting his new HBO series. The English actor plays the lead role of Henry de Tamble in the drama series, The Time Traveler’s Wife. James has also been cast in the upcoming season of The White Lotus, so he will be able to show off his comedic chops. But despite all of his recent bookings, the actor is still best known for his work in the Divergent movies.

Theo James star of the Divergent movies in all black
‘Divergent’ star Theo James | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Theo James rose to fame thanks to the ‘Divergent’ movies

Prior to portraying Tobias “Four” Eaton in the Divergent movies, James had begun building his resume. He even had a small role in Downton Abbey before it became wildly popular. However, playing the Dauntless soldier well and truly thrust James into the spotlight. Before he stepped into Four’s shoes he was relatively unknown, but he soon gained celebrity status.

For his part, James wasn’t looking to be a part of a blockbuster films series when he auditioned for the Divergent movies. However, he was drawn to his character. In an interview with Elle, James described what made Four such a special character and why he was so excited to bring him to life.

The ‘Sanditon’ star was drawn to his character, Four

“I had an immediate affinity with him,” James explained. “I felt I kind of knew who he was, and how I wanted to play him. There are similarities we share, because you inevitably bring a part of yourself to every role you do, some more than others. But he is different. He has a stillness and a masculinity that is reminiscent of those more old-school characters that you see a bit less these days, especially in the younger age group.”

James was also excited about getting into the physicality of Four. During filming, he trained six days a week and even put on pounds of muscle to help embody his character. Because Four was a trained soldier, it was very important for James to get comfortable with mixed martial arts so that it appeared natural on screen.

What part of filming ‘Divergent’ was annoying for James?

Of course, there were some parts of Four that James was less excited about. Fans of the Divergent movies will recall that Four had tattoos all over his back. Apparently, the makeup required to create the body artwork was pretty tedious. And James wasn’t shy about how the process could be pretty annoying.

“It took a while to put that on!” James said of Four’s trademark tattoos. “Sometimes four hours. It was a pain in the ass, but it was fine. It’s obviously not a bad job to sit in a chair for several hours. You can’t complain.” Continuing on, the actor admitted that the process wasn’t all bad. In fact, there were parts of the fake tattooing that he could appreciate.


Theo James Did Not Experience the ‘Twilight’ Effect With ‘Divergent’

“What I liked about it was that there’s a specific aggressiveness about it, and I didn’t want it to look too soft or something,” James shared. “But it has a tree-like visceral element to it, which is cool, but maneuvering that on to someone’s back is a work of art in itself. We used to put music on and chill and eat food, while they repeatedly touched my back.”

Clearly, James went through quite a transformation in the Divergent movies. But he seems to have taken it all in stride.