Has often brought his retired father, to appear as an extra on shoots.
Has diabetes mellitus type 1.
His family lived in the town of Malton in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire.
In 2014 bought a house in the Peckham area of London.
Attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London for three years, but left 6 months before graduation for an acting role in 2010.
Educated at Ampleforth College, a Roman Catholic (Benedictine) boarding independent school in the village of Ampleforth in North Yorkshire. He excelled in theatre and tennis.
Received a Fitzwilliam Travel Grant to travel to Northern India, to teach and perform for schoolchildren at 16 schools.
From 2004 read Theology at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2007 with First Class Honors.
Son of Lavinia Jane Norman and Hugh Biddulph Norton, both teachers.
Was a member of the Marlowe Society theatre club at Cambridge.
At the age of 15, worked at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
His father was born in Tanzania. He was a Lecturer at Hull School of Art and Design.
In 2015, he was made a trustee of the Royal Theatrical Support Trust.
He has English, Irish, Scottish, Cornish, and one sixteenth Ashkenazi Jewish, ancestry, the latter through his direct matrilineal line. Through his Jewish great-great-grandmother, whose family was from Germany and Denmark, James is related to Prime Minister David Cameron, through shared Rée ancestors.
Great-grandson of Hugh Ross Norton, who was the Archdeacon of Sudbury, from 1945 to 1962; and of Vice-Admiral Horace Geoffrey Norman, who was an Allied Warship Commander.
As of May 2020, he is the odds on favorite to replace Daniel Craig as the next James Bond by international sports books (including William Hill at just 2 to 1).
As of 2022, he has appeared in two films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: An Education (2009) and Little Women (2019).