RISING STAR: Theo James finally gets his TV breakthrough role in M-Net Series Golden Boy.

If Theo James looks familiar, it is probably because you remember him as Kemal Pamuk, a Turkish diplomat in season one of BBC Entertainment’s period saga, Downton Abbey, or his film roles. Still new to the small screen, though, he is bound to attract a fan base in his breakthrough TV role in Golden Boy on M-Net Series. Debashine Thangevelo takes a look at his character who, while competing with Tom Selleck in Blue Bloods, has much to do before attaining such heights in the industry.


NOVICE actors may be a breath of fresh air in TV – but they still have to earn their stripes.

With viewers welcoming Stephen Amell as the lead in the superhero TV series, Arrow, and film actor Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in the US crime drama, Elementary, 28-year-old Theo James stands a good chance of winning them over in Golden Boy. In fact, critics have already gone into raptures over the show’s dextrous scripting and casting.

He plays a homicide detective who, through oscillating flash-forwards seven years into the future, becomes the youngest police commissioner in New York City.

Tom Selleck has been reaping plaudits for his role as NYPD Police Commissioner Frank Reagan in the police drama Blue Bloods, so it will be interesting to see how James executes his role.

What does work in James’ favour, however, is he can mould perceptions about his acting abilities.

Having made his TV debut in A Passionate Woman before bagging a brief stint in Downton Abbey and a lead role in Bedlam, he also meandered over to the big screen with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Red Tails, The Domino Effect, The Inbetweeners Movie and Underworld: Awakening. That’s just to single out the recognisable offerings.

On working in an American TV series, he told edgeonthenet.com: “It is very different, actually. In Britain you kind of do the job. Whereas when you do an American TV show, there’s a sense of being one with the crew and the sort of leadership element and all those kind of things, which was a learning curve for me because it’s very culturally different from Britain.”

An admirer of James Gandolfini in The Sopranos, he shares: “As a piece of acting, it was amazing.”

Using Gandolfini’s love/hate relationship with his award-winning character as a comparison to his role as Walter William Clark jr, he reveals: “I like that Golden Boy is about the journey of a single, ruthless person. You see his development and how he blossoms.

“I think he comes from a very dark place. He’s basically from a crime family and has a choice whether he should join them and he chooses the other direction. And he’s smart.

“There’s some abuse that went on and I think that fuels him. He wants to disassociate himself. He wants to disconnect himself in every way with that part of his life.”

To help him grasp the fundamentals of the role to help him play the character with conviction, James spent some time with police officers.

The actor offers: “I hung out with a guy called Wendell for a long time. He’s a first-grade ex-cold case detective.”

Viewers can make their own call on whether James is the new golden boy – but they can’t take away from the fact that he is a promising talent in TV.


• Golden Boy starts on M-Net Series (DStv Channel 114) on Monday, May 13, at 7.30pm.