Theo James Put on Weight for ‘Divergent’: ‘I’m Naturally Quite Slim’

Though Theo James wasn’t looking to do blockbuster films, he couldn’t turn down Divergent when he learned he booked the job. The Downtown Abbey alum felt an affinity for his character, Tobias “Four” Eaton, and was eager to bring him to life. Playing a character who had so much internal life was a welcome challenge for James. But the role was also physically demanding for the actor. In fact, James tasked himself with putting on a bit of weight for the role.

Theo James looks into camera as he arrives at the Divergent premiere
Theo James | Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Theo James did a lot of physical training for the ‘Divergent’ movies

Fans of Divergent will recall that when we first meet Four he is a member of the Dauntless faction. As the Dauntless are authorized to protect the city, they are known for their strength and fearlessness. Since Four is tasked with training the Dauntless transfers, James felt that it was of the utmost importance that he was in tiptop physical shape.

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“I wanted to be in a place where he physically seemed older and mature and as if I’d had been through training ’cause he is an officer above these kids,” James explained in an interview with Just Jared. “I wanted to reach a certain physical state. But also I did my own boxing and I wanted to incorporate that style of movement into the way he moves as well so it felt as natural and real as possible rather than him doing a flying country kick which came out of nowhere.”

The ‘Sanditon’ star adopted a strict exercise routine to manipulate his natural body type

But boxing wasn’t the only thing that James did to prepare for his role in Divergent. He also changed his diet and did a lot of strength training in order to play Four. “I had to build a lot of muscle,” James shared with L’Officiel Netherlands. “When I prepared for it I lifted weights endlessly. I also need to eat a bit more because I’m naturally quite slim.”

James was so committed to looking the part that he actually did individual MMA training outside of his required Divergent training. This boosted his workout schedule to about six to seven days a week while he was shooting the dystopian film in Chicago.

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“I worked out in Chicago learning about MMA fighting with a real MMA fighter,” James revealed to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m a boxing fan. I’d do that kind of training twice a week, doing a bit of sparring that was independent of anything I had to do in the movie.” Continuing on, James explained why it was so vital for him to train extensively and even put on some weight.

Why James wanted to put on weight in order to play Four

“More than anything, I wanted to make the fighting, although futuristic, look realistic,” James shared. “I wanted to have the body type that went with the job. In real life, I’m just OKfitness-wise. I don’t walk around with rippling biceps. For this film, I wanted to put on a little weight. I thought Four should have some density to him. He needed muscle, so he would look as dangerous as possible. I didn’t want him to look like some steroid guy. He had to look like someone you wouldn’t want to run into on a bad day.”

Clearly, the Sanditon alum was committed to embodying the role of Four. James’ fitness routine may have been an intense one, but most fans of Divergent would probably agree that it paid off.

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