Robert-James Collier Moved & Humbled by Response to His Gay Character
‘Downtown Abbey’ hunk Robert-James Collier has been humbled by viewers’ positive response to the struggles of his gay character, under-butler Thomas Barrow.
The actor has played Thomas Barrowman since 2010 but the final series of the 1920s period drama will prove to be the most challenging yet as he comes to terms with his sexuality.
“We’ve dealt with Thomas’s sexuality and he always appeared to be happy, but we found out last year that he wasn’t,” Collier told reporters at International Business Times U.K. “He never resolved it last year — he thought he could cure it by injecting himself [a common “treatment” in the 1920s]. It’s always underlying that he always has to reconcile who he is with himself, good or bad. That’s what this series is all about for Thomas.”
Collier says he’s heard from closeted teens who identify with his Downton Abbey character, “The worry about getting exposed and they’re yet to come out to their families and friends, their insecurities like: ‘Am I going to get accepted, how are my family going to deal with this?’ It’s a huge thing.
“To see something on the TV in a main show that they can identify with is quite rare, so I really tapped into that. It’s really humbling when you see letters like that, because Thomas is moving people and that’s what drama’s supposed to do. It’s supposed to evoke emotion. It’s lovely when you get that, it’s the greatest compliment of all. Very humbling, poignant, and heartfelt.”
Collier also revealed his character will provide one of the drama’s most explosive storylines in the hotly anticipated final series.
“You are going to see Thomas right at the brink. He’s been worn down by years and years of society saying you can’t be who you are and this series deals with that tragic journey.” He went on: “He’s never been truly happy with himself which is why he is so conflicted and nasty. It’ll be as powerful as Downton can get.”
The sixth and final season of ‘Downton Abbey’ is to premiere on September 20.
Watch promo teaser: