‘Downton Abbey’s Rob James-Collier Covers ‘Out’ Magazine

"I’m so proud as an actor that I’ve been used to tell that tale.”

Now that I’m a new fan of Downton Abbey (late, I know, but I more than made up for it since I’ve already watched the entire third season despite the fact that it only started here in the US on Sunday night) I’m able to recognize and pay more attention to the show’s actors. Robert James-Collier plays the dastardly character Thomas Barrow on the show and, as you may know, he is a closeted gay character on the show. As a result, he has attained a gay following … which makes him the perfect coverstar for the new issue of Out magazine. Click below to see James-Collier‘s Out cover, read excerpts from his interview and check out some photos from his accompanying photospread.

Actor Rob James-Collier asked Julian Fellowes what happened to his character’s sexuality. It turns out Season 3 will have the answers
As millions eagerly anticipate the return of Downton Abbey for its third season PBS, Out caught up with Rob James-Collier, the actor who plays the villainous gay footman-turned-valet, Thomas. He’s featured on the February 2013 cover of the magazine and gave a cheerful, fun interview about his time acting on the series with Aaron Hicklin, Out’s editor in chief. As James-Collier and the show moved into season 2, he joked that his character’s sexuality became so muted that he called up creator Julian Fellowes, and asked, “Am I still gay?” Yes, as it turns out. In season 3, we get to see Thomas outed in a powerful sequences of episodes that James-Collier considers the best acting of his career. “It’s the series where we really get to grips with Thomas’s sexuality and the impact that must have had on him, being gay in Edwardian times,” he says. “If you’re including a gay character, there’s an onus and responsibility to at least show what the impact of the time will be on him, and of him on that time. Thankfully we’ve done that, and I’m so proud as an actor that I’ve been used to tell that tale.” A confrontation between Thomas and the butler, Mr. Carson, proves to be a high point, and one that confers uncommon dignity on the footman. “It’s a lovely, beautiful moment,” says James-Collier, clearly delighted by the opportunity to redeem his character. “If you were gay in those times, the fact that you’re even functioning, how you’re not completely fucked up by that, is beyond me.”


You can read the full interview HERE. I have to admit, despite his handsomeness and gayness on the show, I’m not a big Thomas fan. He’s a bit of a devil … a real jerk, to be honest … and while one can rationalize that the character has reasons why he turned out so nasty, I still love to hate him. His machinations with the equally villainous maid O’Brien make him really easy to despise. That said, I love him entirely in the real world. His Out magazine interview is really fantastic and I love the photos. I’m not really able to say much about his storyline in season 3 because I do not want to spoil but … Downton Abbey fans, keep watching … Thomas gets a great bit of drama this season. What do y’all think of this shoot, it’s great ain’t it?

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  1. Bekah

    I definitely felt more sympathetic towards him by the end of the third season, but his character is an ass generally speaking.

  2. Ana

    Julian Fellowes really knows how to depict a complex character, even when there are so many of them on Downton Abbey! I think Thomas is not a bad guy, he’s just so conflicted and scared and angry at society and at himself that I feel really sorry for him. I can only wish this character a very happy ending.

  3. Diana

    I think his character is amazing. Hated him the 1st season but in the end, his character is what human beings are, complex. Yes, he will probably be a jerk again in the future eps but then he’ll probably make me go “aaaw” again. :)

  4. I’m one who wouldn’t miss his evil little personage, if the show were to go on without him.

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