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Is Theo the next Leo? Toward the end of last year, Theo James took a short holiday to the new forest, a national park a couple of hours south of London. He was there for some quiet before the release of Divergent, the next to bat in the best-selling-young-adult-series-turned-movie-franchise-for-teens-equals-cash genre. James, who studied philosophy in college but looks more like a mediterranean shipping heir than a bookish brit, plays a disillusioned badass who helps start an uprising in the dystopic near-future. James admits that he was at first hesitant to do a YA project, though growing up, "I probably pretended I was reading, like, Sartre or something, but it was all Harry potter and Lord of the Rings."
While he's starred in a bunch of British TV, James, 29, is not well-known to American audiences apart from a short-lived cbs cop show (not terrible) and a notorious Downton Abbey cameo in which he died having sex with one of the ladies (honestly, just weird). The magnitude by which that's going to change is silly to speculate about. Maybe in a few months, when Divergent becomes the next Twilight/Hunger Games and theo James the next Rob Pattinson, he will settle into being the kind of person who is photographed at Lakers games wearing beanies and cord necklaces. For the moment, though, there's a wide-eyed disbelief at the world he now inhabits. Still, he seems to be getting an inkling, warily, of what's to come. Near the end of our conversation, I asked if he'd seen a montage of his clips someone had strung together scored to "SexyBack." "That's hilarious!" he exclaimed, then paused. "Oh fuck."