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Rob James-Collier Suggests Downton Abbey Left him Typecast

Downton Abbey - S6E4

When you’re a major character in a television series as popular and beloved as “Downton Abbey,” it’d be fair to assume that finding great, future roles wouldn’t be a problem.

To name a few, Michelle Dockery is the star of “Good Behavior”; Dan Stevens can be seen in “Legion” and “Beauty and the Beast”; Joanne Froggatt plays the lead in hyped series “Liar”; while Jeremy Swift put out an album earlier this year.  

However, one “Downton Abbey” alumni who feels his time on the series may have hurt his future prospects is Rob James-Collier. Having played the very polarizing Thomas Barrow, James-Collier thinks people are having a tough time viewing him as a different type of character. 

“I think audiences in the U.S. 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,” said James-Collier in an interview with the Radio Times. “It can lead to typecasting.”

Downton Abbey S6E2

He 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 is so focused on moving beyond Barrow that he has turned down roles in which he believes would only further typecast him.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time James-Collier exited a popular British show and waited patiently for the right opportunity to come along.

“After I left [‘Coronation Street’] I didn’t work for 15 months; I turned a lot of stuff down because they weren’t the right roles to take me away from what I’d done before,” reflected James-Collier.

Downton Abbey - Thomas - S5E4

“That’s why after Coronation Street I waited for Thomas Barrow,” he added. “And thank God he came along, because the wolves were at the door!”

Right now, James-Collier can be seen in “The Ritual,” a horror flick in which “a group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.”

“It’s a genre I have never done because there’s sometimes a stigma around these films,” noted James-Collier. “There can be too much hack-slashing gore and nudity. [But] this is different.”

-Adam Grant

Downton Abbey - Behind the Scenes

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