‘I felt unattractive when I was younger’: James Norton on feeling uncomfortable with pin-up status


James Norton has revealed he felt ‘unattractive and disempowered’ during his school years in a candid new interview.

Speaking to Man About Town magazine, the Grantchester actor, 35, who is heavily rumoured to become the next James Bond, said years of bullying at his Catholic boarding school affected his confidence and self-esteem.   

He said: ‘I was the kid at the all-boys boarding school who was bullied, whose younger years were definitely spent at the bottom of the pile feeling unattractive and disempowered.’

Interview: James Norton has revealed he felt ‘unattractive and disempowered’ during his school years in a candid new interview with Man About Town 

By contrast, the star now has a pin-up status among fans, and he admits that, at times, he struggles to believe how far he’s come in life. 

He said: ‘You never fully know how to deal with it but that pin-up status is really nothing to do with me and everything to do with others. That stuff is created around you, not by you. 

‘As soon as people deem you a pin-up they expect you to have this extra special power, to walk into every room powerfully, but you don’t. It’s not real.’

 He said: ‘When people credit me with having “a pin-up pout” now, it doesn’t mean anything because my bones are not that.

Candid: Speaking to Man About Town magazine , the Grantchester actor, 35, who is heavily rumoured to become the next James Bond, said years of bullying at his Catholic boarding school affected his confidence and self-esteem

Candid: Speaking to Man About Town magazine , the Grantchester actor, 35, who is heavily rumoured to become the next James Bond, said years of bullying at his Catholic boarding school affected his confidence and self-esteem

‘But I do have moments when I’m being shot by a great photographer, wearing great clothes, when the little unattractive bullied kid in me is laughing his f*****g head off!’

James also insisted that his pin-up status is nothing to do with himself.

He added: ‘As soon as people deem you a pin-up they expect you to have this extra special power, to walk into every room powerfully, but you don’t.’   

In recent years, James has even been tipped as a potential replacement for Daniel Craig as James Bond. 

The War & Peace star has been long reported to be Daniel’s successor following his final outing as the spy in No Time To Die, with bookmaker Ladbrokes even temporarily suspending betting on the character

Bridgerton heart-throb Regé-Jean Page and Luther star Idris Elba were also rumoured as potential 007s, as well as Tom Hardy, Sam Heughan and Richard Madden. 

He said: ‘But for that younger version of me inside of me, it’s fun and flattering and ridiculous and great. 

‘If I was to tell my 16-year-old self that even three people in the world would consider that I could play that role he’d turn to those bullies and go “just you f*****g wait!”‘   

Despite this, the Little Women star observed that his fame and success is dwarfed by some of the leading lights in the industry.

He reflected: ‘You’ve got Leonardo DiCaprio at one end and a jobbing actor at the other – which I was – and there are various iterations of fame between. I’m somewhere in the middle.’

 James also gave an in-depth insight into how he had spent lockdown, branding himself a ‘pandemic cliché’.

He said: ‘I grew the tomato plants, gardened like crazy, did the sourdough wormhole.’

The star – who has been dating Imogen Poots since 2018 – said lockdown had marked the first opportunity in ‘well, forever’ for him and his love to be staying in one place and not travelling. 

Adding what he had learned from lockdown, he continued: ‘The central tenet of storytelling is inherently childish, isn’t it? It’s a glorified version of play. We dress up and f*** around. 

‘When not working, it’s been nice to loosen up and apply that same mentality to other things. Just allowing myself to f*** around. I took up painting for the first time since primary school and was really bad at it. 

Happy couple: The star - who has been dating Imogen Poots since 2018 - said lockdown had marked the first opportunity in 'well, forever' for him and his love to be staying in one place and not travelling (pictured 2020)

Happy couple: The star – who has been dating Imogen Poots since 2018 – said lockdown had marked the first opportunity in ‘well, forever’ for him and his love to be staying in one place and not travelling (pictured 2020)

Breakthrough: James shot to fame in Happy Valley in 2014, for his role as villain Tommy Lee Royce

Breakthrough: James shot to fame in Happy Valley in 2014, for his role as villain Tommy Lee Royce

‘The paintings were awful. But I loved it. It made me realise that the act of being creative isn’t necessarily what you create, but the process. 

‘This past year I was able to sit down and do stuff badly. I think that’s important, to give yourself the time and space to be bad at something. I’ve found a lot of pleasure in being s**t.’          

The full interview with James can be found in the latest issue of Man About Town magazine, available to order now at manabouttown.tv  

There he is: He also starred in Grantchester as Sidney Chambers from 2014-2019

There he is: He also starred in Grantchester as Sidney Chambers from 2014-2019



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