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Theo James has emerged as one of the standout stars of The White Lotus. As macho finance bro Cameron Sullivan, he's the perfect mix of arrogant swagger and slightly icky flirtatiousness. You might also recognize James from the Divergent movies and TV costume drama Sanditon, but here are some things you may not know about him, including some slightly surprising early roles.
1. His full name is Theodore Peter James Kinnaird Taptiklis.
He grew up in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, a small town around 30 miles west of London. His father Philip Taptiklis was a business consultant and his mother Jane worked for the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS). As the youngest of five siblings, James told The Times that it was a constant battle to have his "voice heard among the clash and din."
2. He also describes his family as "jokingly cynical."
In fact, James credits them for keeping his feet firmly on the ground. "I remember my eldest brother, the first time I wrote a song when I was about 13. It was really cheesy. I sat him down and I had my guitar and I opened my heart," James told The Scotsman. "I finished the song, which was f***ing terrible, and they all just burst out laughing. He still takes the p**s out of me now, he calls it 'Why?'"
3. His character was killed off in the very first episode of Downton Abbey.
Remember Kemal Pamuk? He was the Turkish diplomat who died in the bed of Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), then had his corpse escorted to a guest room to avoid any whiff of scandal – sex outside of marriage was frowned upon in Edwardian England. Anyway, this small but memorable guest role was played by James in one of his very first TV appearances.
4. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes said James landed the role because he was deemed "attractive" by women working in his office.
Asked if he found Fellowes' comment "reductive," James told The Times many years later: “Not at that point. I was f***ing needing to pay my mountain of student debt, so I couldn't give a f**k if it was reductive. Yes, now I think if I was to play that part, it would feel extremely reductive."
5. He also appeared in The Inbetweeners Movie.
Released in 2011, this spin-off from a popular British sitcom was a massive hit in the U.K. He played a holiday rep called James who is, well, both dashing and a bit of a douchebag. You can watch a clip of him in action here – just be aware that it features some salty language.
6. Before he was famous, he sang and played guitar in a band called Shere Khan.
The band broke up in 2012, but fortunately for us, there's footage of them doing their thing on YouTube.
7. He is married to fellow actor Ruth Kearney.
The couple met at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, a top British acting academy whose alumni include Olivia Colman, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Patrick Stewart. Like James, Kearney has worked prolifically on screen: you may recognize her from Primeval, Sanditon, The Following, or perhaps Acorn TV's Finding Joy. The couple have one child, a daughter, who was born in 2021.
8. He believes fatherhood has made him "a much more solid person."
James told InStyle he found the experience "discombobulating" to begin with, but ultimately very enriching. "You still do all the same s**t that you did before," he continued. "But for example, obsessiveness, worrying about X or Y — it does calm that kind of outlook on life because it makes you realize that certain things are a bit more important."
9. Being objectified doesn't bother him.
At least, not too much, anyways. "I guess as a man I don't think we have any leg to stand on," James told London's Evening Standard. "You know, it still is done and it has been done since the dawn of time for women so… we should be able to take it. If it exists, we should be able to take it."
10. And he's aware that people might confuse him with his characters.
Let's hope no one presumes he's too similar to Cameron from The White Lotus, though. "There are preconceptions of what you're going to be like as an actor, as a person. People I've worked with who've become friends have said to me: "I assumed you were going to be a dick,'" James told ES Magazine a few years ago.
Kudos to him for proving them wrong!
Are you a fan of Theo James in The White Lotus?