Downton Abbey star says playing a gay man has hurt his career


Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier has said playing a gay character has had a negative impact on his career.

The 41-year-old actor played villainous under-butler Thomas Barrow on the show, which ended last year after six seasons.

During a controversial season 5 storyline which saw Thomas attempt to ‘cure’ his homosexuality with toxic ‘medicine,’ James-Collier said playing the part was “a privilege”.



He reported that showing the difficulties of being gay in early-20th century Britain had helped some of the show’s fans to deal with their own sexualities.

Receiving letters from these viewers was “the greatest compliment of all,” he said, adding that they were “very humbling, poignant and heartfelt.”

But, speaking to Radio Times, he said that the watching public now associated him with Thomas’s gay character, which had affected his job prospects.



“I think audiences in the US can identify quite easily with the quintessential English gent and English lady, whereas a neurotic, dark, gay character like Thomas is a hard thing to put into the American market.

“It can lead to typecasting,” he added.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge shares a joke with actor Robert James-Collier (Thomas) during an official visit to the set of Downton Abbey at Ealing Studios on March 12, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)


And James-Collier complained that he had the same issue with producers and casting directors.

“Because Thomas Barrow is gay and is, essentially, the bad guy for much of the show, a lot of people within the industry can only see you as that,” he said.

Comments (0)

MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.

Loading Comments