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Downtown Abbey star says playing gay has hurt his career

By Will Stroude

Downtown Abbey 

actor Robert James-Collier fears that he’s been typecast after playing a gay character in the show.

James-Collier played villainous gay butler Thomas Barrow in all six seasons of the period drama and quickly became a fan favourite.

But a new interview, the 41-year-old claims he hasn’t had the opportunities his co-stars have had since the show came to an end because of his character’s sexuality.

Speaking to Radio Times, James-Collier said: “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.”

James-Collier claims it isn’t just viewers that might typecast, it can be 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. They might not be in a rush to see you as a heterosexual love interest. That takes time.”

Several other former Downton Abbey stars have gone on to find fame in the US since Julian Fellowes’ period drama came to an end.

Michelle Dockery, who played Lady Mary Crawley, now stars in TNT’s Good Behavior, while former Attitude cover Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley, landed the lead in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

James-Collier also revealed he’d turned down stage roles “which happened to be gay characters” before stating he turned them down because he wants to “show something different.”

Downtown Abbey ended in 2015, and James-Collier has since starred in 2016’s The Attendant, a TV series about a hopeless romantic who creates a fantasy world to fight boredom during work. The actor is also set to star in 2017’s The Ritual. 

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