Theo Germaine as James in 'The Politician' Is Low-Key Brilliant

Expect to see a lot more of this breakout star.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of NETFLIX)

If Netflix's The Politician is the colorful high-school version of House of Cards, James Sullivan is its Doug Stamper. Newcomer Theo Germaine delivers a scene-stealing performance as Payton's ride-or-die campaign manager, who, like Stamper, will stop at nothing to clinch Payton's success. Germaine is new to the scene—all three of their first major projects are out this year or next—but if their Politician performance is any indicator, they're here to stay.

If you haven't caught The Politician yet, a little background: Payton, played by Ben Platt, is running for student body president in his final year of high school. He's hell-bent on winning the election, going on to Harvard, and eventually becoming president. To Payton, there are no other options. He's constantly flanked by his spellbindingly somber aides, James Sullivan (Germaine) and the less morally questionable McAfee Westbrook (Laura Dreyfuss). In an early scene, McAfee and Payton conspire behind James' back to determine whether Payton's running mate Infinity actually has cancer, as Infinity believes; McAfee and Payton are curious, but James begs them to reconsider, pointing out over and over that once they know the truth, they're all culpable.

Germaine identifies as trans non-binary, and has said in interviews that although their preferred pronouns are they/them, they're comfortable also being referred to using his/him (“I use them interchangeably," they told the LA Times). Their character, James, uses his/him pronouns, but never explicitly refers to his gender identity, which Ben Platt and Germaine have said in interviews was a deliberate choice. "He’s just a high school boy who gets to live his life and the story is about trying to get his friend to win the election," said Germaine.

Germaine clearly had a ball filming the show; they've been excitedly posting previews to Instagram since The Politician was announced, and have posted a handful of shots from the show's filming and its premiere party. One highlight of many, they say, was getting to work with Janet Mock during the filming of episode three. "When you get to work with somebody like Janet, who falls underneath a similar umbrella as you, it feels like there is an increased level of understanding," they told TNR.

No matter what happens next, Germaine is clear: Chicago is home. “I’m super stubborn about trying to stay in Chicago and doing work here," they said. "I came back after The Politician in December and I hid for a long time because I was overwhelmed. And as soon as people figured out that I came back they were like, you should be in LA and going to meetings...And I understand—but I want to try it this way first."

In the same interview, they went into some of the reasons behind their desire to live and work in Chicago: "So many of my peers who are actors who are trans, I am angered and maddened by people not being seen. And I want to make people feel seen. And I want to get people work. So maybe a way to do that is to figure out how to make a lot of stuff happen here."

As for their hobbies? According to Germaine's official talent profile: "When they aren't working, they spend their time learning a new skill, listening to metal, watching Star Trek, or dreaming up new, queer, trans, futures of the entertainment industry."

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(Image credit: Beth Dubber / Netflix)

'The Politician' Easter Egg in the Opening Credits You Definitely Missed

Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018, she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership.

When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.