The 34-year-old actor plays the publication's founder Hugh Hefner in upcoming biopic Lovelace - which stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star character - and he admits he has always been a "fan" of the entrepreneur's racy work.
When asked by ShortList magazine whether he has ever met Hugh, James replied: "No, although I've always been a fan of his work since I was a kid. Seriously, if I could get my hands on his magazines I would - my friend's father had a stash we used to look at when he wasn't home.
"I play him during his 70s persona - a much younger, more self-aware Hef. It's funny, watching old interviews to research the part, I saw that he's not just a smut-hound, he's pretty interesting.
"His aim was to mix the mind and body in his magazine in a way that was unprecedented back then - really raw. It's a tame publication these days."
James hopes Hugh will appreciate his "dignified" portrayal and he has made sure to capture the darker side of porn accurately.
He added: "I tried to portray him with a bit of complexity and dignity. But there are also the needs of the film to address - to fit him into the kind of story the producers are trying to tell.
"Linda Lovelace might have started off wide-eyed about the porn industry, but it gets serious, and Hef has to deliver some of that harshness to her. I don't think he's seen it yet, but I hope he'll like it."
The late Linda Lovelace - real name Linda Boreman - is one of the most famous adult actresses of all-time and shot to prominence after appearing in 1972 movie Deep Throat.
However, she later became a prominent anti-porn campaigner and claimed she had been forced into a life of porn by her controlling and abusive husband Chuck Traynor.