James’ ‘Stranger’ role leads to ‘Bedlam’

TV's Top 10: New Faces for Fall - Theo James

Few things can jumpstart a career as quickly as being cast in a Woody Allen movie.

In his final year at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Oxford-born Theo James was tapped for a small part in “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.”

“Working with Woody Allen was extremely gratifying,” James says. “He has such a vast catalog of great work that doing one of his films was somewhat unreal.”

Anthony Hopkins provided a master-class experience during the filming.

“He’s very real about the industry,” James says. “It is an art form, to sound a bit pretentious, but it is also a job.”

In the 18 months since graduating, James quickly picked up film (“Underworld: Awakening”) and TV roles, including swarthy lover Kemal Pamuk in Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey” and ghost communicator Jed, who is diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, in BBC America’s new fall drama “Bedlam.”

“For (Jed), who is considered mad, it’s about expressing that loneliness, of not fitting in, ” James says. “But for all that, it’s still a drama about young people, and you have to grab the realism to make it work.”

While James toyed with the idea of becoming an actor when he was 18, he felt he was too green to embark on that career until he had some life experiences.

“It might have worked for others, but I was not mature enough to do it,” says James, who holds a degree in philosophy from the U. of Nottingham. “I needed to be a bit more grounded and to have more to draw from. It was the right decision for me.”

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