Rob James-Collier: Downton Abbey role saw me typecast in US
He rose to international fame playing the dastardly Thomas Barrow in the hit period drama.
Rob James-Collier has said his role in Downton Abbey may have caused him to be typecast, impacting on his career opportunities in America.
James-Collier played Thomas Barrow, the butler with an evil streak, in the hit ITV period drama that became a global smash hit.
The 41-year-old actor told the Radio Times he thinks the characters played by his co-stars – such as Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and Lily James – are “more easily transferable” in Hollywood.
He added: “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.”
James-Collier, who appeared in Coronation Street before starring in Downton Abbey, said that Thomas’ sexuality and his being a “bad guy for much of the show” meant that “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,” he added.
“That takes time.”
He said he has been offered some roles in theatre “which happened to be gay characters”, but that he turned them down because he “really 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,” he said.
“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 now set to appear in horror film The Ritual alongside Rafe Spall, one of the first acting jobs he has had since Downton Abbey ended in 2015.
The film sees a group of college friends reuniting for a trip in the forest, but end up being stalked by a menacing presence.
He said: “It’s a genre I have never done because there’s sometimes a stigma around these films.
“There can be too much hackslashing gore and nudity. This is different.”
The latest issue of the Radio Times is on sale now.
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