March 18, 2015 / 7:14 PM / 4 years ago

A Minute With: Theo James on 'Insurgent,' warfare and YA fans

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As the handsome boyfriend of heroine Tris Prior in the “Divergent” sci-fi action film series, actor Theo James has been thrust into the spotlight as a young adult movie hero.

Cast member Theo James poses at the premiere of "Divergent" in Los Angeles, California in this March 18, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

The 30-year-old British actor plays Four, the mentor of Prior (Shailene Woodley), in the films, which are based on dystopian novels by American author Veronica Roth.

James spoke to Reuters ahead of the release on Friday of the second film in the series, “Insurgent,” about his character’s evolution, the film’s handling of warfare and being a teen idol.

Q: Where is Four mentally at in “Insurgent”?

A: For the first time, he has something to lose in Tris, and Tris is very different in this film because she’s lost her parents, and she’s on this very destructive path of vengeance. He is trying to temper that and make sure she doesn’t kill herself essentially, so he’s a little bit more open than he was in the first movie.

Q: The second movie diverges from the book significantly. Did it allow you to take more liberty with portraying Four?

A: Yes, we definitely had a little bit more liberty. We still felt like we had the grounding of the first film, and you feel like you vaguely know who these people are, but you had a little bit more. People were a bit more relaxed, so everyone could push the boundaries a little bit.

Q: How was the brutal violence of wartime conveyed in this film, given its young adult audience?

A: The cost of violence and the cost of death are dealt with. I know what you mean, the question of glorification of guns or glorification of death, but people aren’t dispatched with submachine guns.

Similarly the questions of social structure and what information you withhold from society, and how that affects people, and how it dominates them and how eventually it leads to some kind of uprising (are dealt with.)

Q: How have you handled being a young adult hero, especially with such an avid fan base for the books?

A: You want the audiences to enjoy the movies, definitely, and that’s why you’re doing it, that’s definitely a great thing. Otherwise it’s not like my day-to-day life has changed astronomically. There are things I probably wouldn’t do that I did before, but I’m kind of the same person.

Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Steve Orlofsky

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