Known for playing Turkish bloke Mr. Pamuk who caused an entire season of scandal on "Downton Abbey," Theo James has made his return to the small screen with a new CBS series, "Golden Boy." James plays Walter William Clark Jr., a New York City cop who quickly becomes the youngest police commissioner in history.
"He's actually based on a guy that [writer] Nick Wootton is friends with and has been working with for a long time," James told HuffPost TV about his character during a set visit. "He's a young, very smart cop. He's on patrol and gets a quick bump -- he's extremely ambitious, but he's also morally ambiguous. I think at heart he's a good person, but he will do anything to get the job done. And sometimes, that requires bending or fracturing the law."
Read on for more from James about how the show differs from other cop dramas and of course his infamous "Downton Abbey" character.
How do you think "Golden Boy" is different from other cop dramas?
Firstly, I think it has more of a reflective setup. You have these bookends that round off the episodes, so you know this guy got to a certain place in his career and has been successful. Essentially you know he wins, but when you see him as an older commissioner, he's won at a price and he's a damaged person. You don't exactly know why, but it plots the person's ascent and the people who have shaped him. It's about becoming something, but at a cost. It's also different because it has a procedural element, but it runs as a piece about characters.
Have you become close as a cast?
No, we all hate each other. [Laughs] We've been lucky. We've become very close, and you don't always get that. There are six of us who are going out all the time and enjoying each other's company, which helps to create a sense of family in the unit of the show.
Even though you were only in "Downton Abbey" for one episode, your character was a memorable one. Are you surprised the show has done so well?
No, not really. Mr. Pamuk wasn't around for long, but when I read the scripts and went to shoot the episode, I knew it was going to be good. It's a very concise, clever piece of writing.
Did you get to know everyone well?
Intimately, yeah. We used to have wild sex parties in the castle. [Laughs] I did get to know them, though. For one episode it was quite a lot of shooting. They're a very nice bunch of people, which makes it even better that the show's been so successful.
How is the shooting pace different on "Golden Boy" versus a show like "Downton"?
The pace is extremely buoyant at all times. There's always something pushing the story along. I think period drama is a different beast, because it's all about looks and what isn't said. It's the same as "Golden Boy," but in a different way. That's why people have an affinity for period drama, I think. There's the English thing, of course, and then there's everything that's not said.
How long did it take you to get ready for your "Downton" scenes?
Well I had a wig on, so it took me a while.
Going forward, what kinds of roles are you looking to play? More action shows? More period pieces?
I'm open to anything, but I think the most important thing is to keep playing different parts. So if you're playing a New York cop or a Turkish dude, it's just important to have range.
"Golden Boy" airs at Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST on CBS before moving to its regular Fridays, 9 p.m. EST timeslot.