Divergent's Theo James on low maintenance grooming

The English actor talks beard maintenance, top knots and why you won’t catch him having a facial any time soon

Theo James main
Theo James main

The English actor talks beard maintenance, top knots and why you won’t catch him having a facial any time soon

If an occasion calls for a suit, then I’ll wear a fragrance. I think it’s nicer to wear a scent occasionally. I like a fragrance that smells masculine, so I wear Hugo Boss The Scent EDT. It feels rich but has dark undertones too.

I’m also picky about women’s perfumes. I’m not a huge fan of anything floral, with too much lavender, or anything too citrus. I like darker, moodier fragrances.

When it comes to tattoos, I think you should go big or not bother. I have [temporary] tattoos on my back in the Divergent movies – it takes an hour or so to have them applied. I don’t have any tattoos myself. I always thought that I would get one but, actually, now I’m kind of OK with not having any. I’m just not sure they would suit me.

When I have a beard, I don’t do much to look after it. I tried a product once and it just made it go really oily. I can’t let it get too long though; when it’s had a few weeks growth it gets quite ginger.

There is a ritual to a good shave. You need a new razor that’s really sharp and you have to build up a good pre-shave lather. Then you need one of those aftershave balms so your skin doesn’t feel too fucked.

From left to right: 1. Hugo Boss The Scent EDT; 2. Neville by Cowshed Badger Brush & Stand; 3. Neville by Cowshed Shaving Soap; 4. REN Multi-Tasking After Shave Balm

Training for the Divergent films require a very extreme regime. You have to get up at 8am every morning and do two hours of juggling, I’m kidding! I generally try to keep myself fit, but my character has to look a certain way, so I have to step it up a notch. It’s difficult, either because there’s only a short period of time to do it in, or because I’ll be doing another movie where I’m not supposed to look like that. Basically, you have to work really hard and force yourself to eat a lot. I’m not a fan of the gym, but weight training is the quickest way to put on the pounds.

I’ve boxed for a long time, I do it for fun. I love all the things that go along with boxing – you wrap-up, you put on the headgear, you spar, you skip, hit the speed bag, hit some pads. I go to the same place in London, another place in New York and another in LA. So when I touch-down, I often known where I’m going to go to. They’re local boxing spots – you know, a bit grimy but very atmospheric.

From left to right: 5. REN Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel; 6. Hugo Boss The Scent Deodorant Spray; 7. Aesop Coriander Seed Body Cleanser; 8. Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo

California is very… California. The topknot? They love that shit! I’m not a huge regime dude. I shave my legs every morning. Ha! No, no I don’t. I’m low maintenance but I’m a big fan of REN skincare products, they’re really good. Otherwise, I’m pretty simple. I like to use Hugo Boss The Scent Deodorant, and at home we have that fancy Aesop soap. I’m usually happy to use whatever products are in my hotel or lying around, but a mate recommended Moroccanoil shampoo, so I’ve been using that, too.

I’m definitively not into getting my nails done. And I’m really not into facials. For a film once, I was told that I should go for a facial, because it was a period movie and they would be doing a lot to my face – basically I needed to clear my shit out. So I went and, ah, it was so unpleasant. [The therapist] was kind of aggressive with me. Not my thing at all.

I’m an impatient cook. I do have to be vigilant with what I eat and, on the whole I would say I’m healthy – minus the alcohol. If I have to cook, it’s usually grilled chicken. Otherwise, I like to head out. I guess I haven’t spent that much time in London in the last couple of years - though it’s still my spiritual home and all my family and friends from university and friends from school are still here – but when I am at home in London, we go to a local pub called The Drapers Arms.

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