He's been part of the cult football/prison play Singing I'm No' A Billy - He's A Tim playing the Celtic fan.
And now he's appearing in I, Tommy, the comedy by Rab C Nesbitt writer Ian Pattison, featuring the life and times of Tommy Sheridan, running at the Pavilion Theatre.
However James, 38, reveals his life would most likely have turned out very differently had a new priest not arrived at his school one day.
And preached his very own gospel of empathy to uncertain teenagers.
"I wasn't exactly drawn to theatre at an early age," he recalls of being a five year-old, the youngest of five kids growing up in Clydebank.
"My two big sisters were part of a dance school that performed in the major theatres in Glasgow, and because they were going to the likes of the Pavilion or the King's I had to go. And I got filled with sweets to keep me quiet, and ran about at the back of the big theatres.
"But although I'd become captivated by watching actors perform on stage, it wasn't until one day at school, St Andrew's, a new chaplain arrived that my thoughts became focused.
"This priest stood out, first, because he was young, and second, because he introduced himself, by his christian name, Father Neil.
"Then he stunned us all by asking how many of us attended mass. So we all put our hands up, and then he said, 'No, how many of you really go to mass?' And half of us put our hands up.
"The priest then asked why we didn't go to mass, and we said because it was boring.
"And he listened as we explained it was all repetitive."
James had caught the ear of the innovative priest. And found himself coming up with a solution to the problem of the predictable mass.
"I suggested that instead of reading the gospel, why didn't we act it out, with the classmates playing different roles?"
The actor within had emerged. James found himself playing the Devil.
"I had this character of playing a bad bloke, and our own wee gospel went down fantastically well with the school. And I got a real buzz from doing this.
"In fact, it was so successful Father Neil then suggested we start up a drama class at school. And before we knew it, we were putting on our first play and we had a massive turnout."
Did he think he could make a living out of it?
"I wasn't sure, but my interest grew because of the school experience. I then joined a drama club in Clydebank, and loved it."
Previously, James entertained thoughts of become a meteorologist or an air traffic controller. "I think this was because I read somewhere air traffic controllers retired at 45."
The acting hobby developed. Teachers told James he was talented and should consider acting as a career.
"But when I was younger, actors lived in Hollywood, not in Clydebank. It was all too much of a dream. So I took a year out after leaving school and went to work in Cyprus, working in a bar. And this experience was great. It gave me the chance to really think about what I really wanted to do with my life.
"So I applied to Langside Drama College and was accepted."
While still in college, James landed a 'massive' Scotland Against Drugs commercial.
"It was fantastic profile," he says of the Jekyll/Hyde role in which his character took advantage of a young girl, "and the money was fantastic.
"The role landed me an agent, and work has come in since."
He adds, "Don't get me wrong, I've had some lean times. But for the most part I've managed to keep on working with the likes of Raindog Theatre company, alongside the likes of Bobby Carlyle, Barbara Rafferty and Sean Scanlan.
James had a great run in River City playing Dominic Roberts. He was scheduled to appear for a couple of episodes but the character proved to be successful.
"I thought my character would be killed off, but thankfully he was only sentenced to 15 years," he says smiling.
He adds "I was actually in the series six years ago playing a policeman, but then I came back as a baddie. But that's what I love about acting.
"And while I look a bit scruffy, I think I've got an honest face. So I don't get pigeonholed into parts. I get the range."
But of course, he works because he has a great reputation. His talent stands out, in dramatic theatre and panto. And he's been a regular feature with Singing I'm No' A Billy - He's A Tim.
"Playing to 3,000 people at the Armadillo was incredible."
Meanwhile, James is delighted to be part of the I, Tommy line up, in which he plays characters, from a policeman to a judge to half of a posh West End couple.
"I went to see the show at the Edinburgh Festival last year. I've always been a Tommy Sheridan fan and I was interested in the subject matter. "While I'm sure Tommy won't agree entirely with this representation of his life, it really works as a heightened reality.
"And most of all it's a very funny play."
I, Tommy, is at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday September 21.