James was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and raised in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, with his eight brothers and sisters in the shadow of Londons Stansted airport. His father was a stockbroker and his mother was a teacher.
James was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and raised in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, with his eight brothers and sisters in the shadow of Londons Stansted airport. His father was a stockbroker and his mother was a teacher. He was educated at Newport Free Grammar School. He earned his degree in Drama and Film at the University of East Anglia, and went on to study acting at Londons prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama. He worked a variety of jobs in social work, factories, and the service industry, before traveling throughout India. While studying in London, Frain was spotted by Sir Richard Attenborough, who immediately cast him in his first feature, Shadowlands (1993), opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. With theater credits for The Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court, as well as, in the West End in a range of classical and modern plays, Frains reputation quickly spread to television and film, where he won leading roles in the Oscar nominated features, Elizabeth (1998) with Cate Blanchett, and Hilary and Jackie (1998) with Rachel Griffiths. James reunited on screen with Sir Anthony Hopkins in Fox Searchlights film, Titus (1999). In 2007, he appeared with Ian McShane on Broadway in The Homecoming - for which the cast won The Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble. In the U.S., Frain played leading roles in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, Where the Heart Is (2000) opposite Natalie Portman, Deception (2000) with Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron, and Into the Blue (2005) with Paul Walker.