Robert James-Collier says 'Downton Abbey' movie shows 'horrific' homophobic 1920s England

The new film is set to hit UK cinemas on September 13


Words: Steve Brown

Robert James-Collier says Downton Abbey movie ‘hammers home’ what it was like to be a gay man in the 1920s.

Fans of Julian Fellowes hit costume drama series are eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation which is set to hit UK cinemas tomorrow (September 13).

The movie adaptation will see the return of most of the main cast from the series – minus a few names – and Robert James-Collier is set to reprise his role as valet-turned-butler Thomas Barrow for the big screen outing.

Throughout the run of the series, Thomas’ sexuality was revealed but the character was unable to live his true life because homosexuality was illegal during the era the series was set. In one season, he even tries gay conversion therapy.

But now, in the trailer for the movie adaptation, we see Thomas dancing with another man and while speaking to PA, Collier said shooting the film was an emotional insight into how gay people were treated in the 1920s.

He said: “It’s like a separate film so what a lovely thing, Thomas has got this little vignette off the side.

“When all the pomp and circumstance with the royal visit is going on, you cut to Thomas’ story so I’m like, Thank you Julian [Fellowes] for trusting me that I can do this’.

“You see Thomas discover a whole new world, and that is closer to who he is and there is a joy there, but then that joy may get taken away but it’s a very emotional, Thomas’s journey.

“It also hammers home what it was like to be a gay man in those times, it was horrific and it’s brought back and it just shows how different it was.

“It must have been so hard for him and that is why the people warm to him and root for Thomas now, and they certainly will in the film if you watch it.”

Downton Abbey arrives in UK cinemas from September 13, 2019.

Watch the trailer for the new film below: