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Hollyoaks star responds to Downton Abbey actor’s claim that playing gay hurt his career

By Will Stroude


star Andrew Hayden-Smith has responded to comments by former Downton Abbey star Robert James-Collier that playing gay may have hurt his career.

James-Collier, who played villainous gay butler Thomas Barrow in all six seasons of the hit ITV period drama, revealed in a recent interview he believed that he hadn’t found the same level of success as some of his former co-stars following the show’s conclusion because he had been “typecast” by audiences and producers.

He told the Radio Times earlier this week: “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.”

The 41-year-old actor continued: “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.”

James-Collier’s comments were quickly jumped on by Hollyoaks star Andrew Hayden-Smith, who expressed his disagreement on Twitter on Thursday (October 5).

Hayden-Smith, who plays DS Gavin Armstrong on the Channel 4 soap and is openly gay, pointed out that playing a prominent LGBT character hasn’t stopped other stars from going on to find even greater success.

The former Byker Grove star highlighted the career trajectory of British actor Charlie Hunnam, who rose to fame playing a young gay teen on seminal LGBT drama Queer as Folk before going on to find Hollywood success in blockbusters such as Cold Mountain and Pacific Rim, as an example.

Sharing a story on James-Collier’s remarks, Hayden-Smith wrote: “Nah mate. Never did little Charlie Hunnam any harm after QAF did it?”

Since Downtown Abbey ended in 2015, James-Collier has made appearanes in in TV shows including The Level and The Attendant.

Former co-star Michelle Dockery, who played Lady Mary Crawley, now stars in TNT’s Good Behavior, while Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley, landed the lead role in Disney blockbuster Beauty and the Beast.

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