Hollyoaks star hits back after Downton Abbey actor said playing gay hurt his career

An out gay Hollyoaks star has hit back after a Downton Abbey actor said playing a gay character hurt his career.

Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier, who played a gay butler in all seasons of the hit series, earlier this week said playing a gay character has had a negative impact on his career.

Now Hollyoaks star Andrew Hayden-Smith, who plays DS Gavin Armstrong in the season has hit back.

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



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.

“They might not be in a rush to see you as a heterosexual love interest.

“That takes time.”

But Hayden-Smith had something to say about that.

He compared James-Collier’s complaint to the career of Charlie Hunnam, who played a gay character in the original series of Queer As Folk.

Hayden-Smith tweeted: “Nah mate. Never did little Charlie Hunnam any harm after QAF did it?”

Andrew Hayden Smith

Andrew Hayden Smith

The actor revealed that since the hugely successful ITV show, he has refused to take on theatrical roles “which happened to be gay characters.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Actors Allen Leech and Rob James Collier attend The Downton Abbey Ball at The Savoy Hotel on April 30, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)


He rejected these offers because he “really wanted to show something different”.

Since the show’s heartwarming conclusion, James-Collier’s fellow Downton star Lily James has been in summer blockbuster Baby Driver.

rob james-collier itv 3


And of course Dan Stevens, who played the tragic figure of Matthew Crawley in the period drama, portrayed the Beast in this year’s Beauty and the Beast.

James-Collier will at least appear in the upcoming horror film The Ritual, which is about old friends from university reuniting for a terrifying camping trip.

Last year 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.”

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”.