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Actor reveals playing gay character has “led to type-casting”

Rob James-Collier, 41, has said his role as the hair-slicked hearth-throb gay butler Thomas Barrow in the internationally successful show Downtown Abbey has limited career opportunities in America.

The actor told the Radio Times that characters played by his colleagues on Downtown Abbey are “more easily transferable” in the States.

“I think audiences in the US can identify quite easily with the quintessential English gent and English lady”, he said.

“Whereas a neurotic, dark, gay character like Thomas is a hard thing to put into the American market. It can lead to typecasting.”

“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.

Adding: “They might not be in a rush to see you as a heterosexual love interest. That takes time.”

Image: Carnival Film and Television LTD

The actor, previously known for playing ‘Liam’ in Coronation Street, said he had been offered theatre roles “which happened to be gay characters”, but he had chosen not to pursue those as he “wanted to show something different”.

“After I left Corrie, 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.

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

James-Collier is next set to appear in horror film The Ritual, one of his first acting jobs since Downton Abbey came to an end in 2015.

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Danielle Mustarde

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