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Downton Abbey's Gay Footman Will Be Outed: VIDEO

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[SPOILERY]

James-collierOUT's Aaron Hicklin turns in a detailed interview with Rob James-Collier, who plays Downton Abbey's gay footman Thomas Barrow. His character's sexuality gets turned up in season 3:

James-Collier has joked that his character's sexuality became so muted in season 2 that he called up Fellowes and asked, "Am I still gay?" Yes, it turns out. In season 3, we get to see Thomas outed in a powerful sequence of episodes that James-Collier considers the best acting of his career. "It's the series where we really comes to grips with Thomas's sexuality and the impact being gay must have had on him, 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 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 f**ked up by that, is beyond me."

Watch the trailer for Season 3, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. I've seen all of Season 3 and Thomas' storyline is frustrating. It's interesting when you consider the backdrop of the fact that he could be hanged for being gay, but the way the creator has written his character makes him such a weak and pathetic character. Something I never really considered Thomas in the other seasons. I'll be interested to see what the reaction is here in the states after season 3 ends on PBS.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 3, 2013 1:16:01 PM


  2. woohoo!!! it's been wonderful to watch this sad and nuanced portrait of oppression and shame.

    this program's depiction of a "bygone era" that aint as bygone as we think has really shown modern audiences the parallels of the still-thriving class system. the upper class who end up being wholly dependent on a servant class.

    Grantham would be like Romney, only Grantham knows his Helps names and tends to have a wee bit of heart ;-)


    and poor wee Thomas - the product of bitterness and fear. He's so much more than a mere "villain" - he's a perfect example of what a culture of fear reduces a person to.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 3, 2013 1:17:34 PM


  3. Please stop spoiling story lines by putting the spoilers in the title of the piece. You could have entited this post -- Downtown Abbey SPOILERS [do not read unless you want to know what happens.] This is the second time this blog has done this with Downtown Abbey. Please stop.

    Posted by: TedinSac | Jan 3, 2013 1:23:24 PM


  4. I've been a HUGE fan of the series, despite its many inconsistencies. However, without spoiling anything with explicit reveals, having seen S3 I'll just say that the obviously over-stretched Abbey scribe Jullian Fellowes—after having already needlessly written his one ongoing gay character out of more than a dozen ongoing straight characters as a slimy villain [which is NEITHER explained NOR justified by those homophobic times]—chose the laziest, dare one say most cowardly way to illustrate Thomas is "still gay" this time round. Prepare yourselves for MAJOR disappointment, Boys & Girls. In fact, regarding the season overall, I'd say by the broadcast here of the falsely-labeled "Christmas episode," fans will be throwing things at their TV screens—and not just because two of the main, most beloved characters are killed off. [I did NOT say WHO, so spare ME the brickbats.] It's time much more was demanded of Mr. Fellowes than pretty houses, pretty clothes, and pretty people. S3 still has all those, but is still pretty goddamned lame.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 1:33:30 PM


  5. Hum if you are concerned about people being spoiled maybe you should do better than start the post with "spoilery" and instead, you know, not put the substance of the spoiler IN THE TITLE.

    Posted by: nhuixnhuix | Jan 3, 2013 1:45:24 PM


  6. I think I've seen Thomas as pretty much the opposite way as everyone else - except LITTLEKIWI apparently. I've loved the subtle hints and outright statements at his being gay. I thing it humanizes him.

    I remember one episode where he was saying how people treat him the way they do because he's "different." The way he said it was a bit heartbreaking. Then there was the moment during Daisy's crush on him where Mrs. Padmore tries to explain to her why he's not into her by saying "he's not a ladies' man." People know that he's gay, and he knows they know and it frightens him and shapes him in some dark ways.

    I actually think Fellowes has treated Thomas in a kind of sensitive way. I certainly love the twist a gay character adds to this period piece. As someone who came of age in New York City in the 80's and never had to question or hide my sexuality, it gives me a new perspective and makes me not take what I have for granted.

    Posted by: MT | Jan 3, 2013 1:46:19 PM


  7. The series has gone downhill from near perfect season 1, so is the characters, incl. Thomas. It still has its moments, esp. with Dame Maggie, but Thomas is much less interesting than at the beginning. Nothing wrong with the actor, it's the script.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jan 3, 2013 1:56:51 PM


  8. I really loved lord Grantham reaction after knowing (well, he knew it long before).

    Posted by: jjose712 | Jan 3, 2013 2:01:45 PM


  9. SPOILER BELOW SO STOP NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FIRST SEASON OF THE SERIES.

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    ....which, apparently, "MT" hasn't because there was nothing "subtle" about Thomas kissing and trying to blackmail the Grantham's houseguest, the Duke of Crowborough, with whom he's been having an affair. But the Duke [played by Charlie Cox who went on to play the Irish hitman/confidant for Nucky Thompson in "Boardwalk Empire"] burns his love letters to Thomas before before Thomas can stop him.

    As for trying to justify such typical evil by Thomas because of homophobia—BALDERDASH. Dustin Lance Black essentially tried the same thing in his script for the unctuous movie about J. Edgar Hoover. Millions of gay men and women across the ages have suffered because of homophobia but 99.999999999% didn't go from basically good person to monsters because of it.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 2:01:57 PM


  10. Can you PLEASE put spoilers AFTER the break, not in the headline of a piece? Geez.

    Posted by: NOYB | Jan 3, 2013 2:04:37 PM


  11. Can you PLEASE put spoilers AFTER the break, not in the headline of a piece? Geez.

    Posted by: NOYB | Jan 3, 2013 2:04:39 PM


  12. Thomas isn't a monster. He's a nuanced portrait of weakness, sadness, and loneliness in the face of oppression.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 3, 2013 2:05:44 PM


  13. I'm certainly not trying to justify Thomas' behavior or choices. I just think he's a complex character with a lot going on under the surface. Maybe I'm seeing things that aren't necessarily there, but it's only TV. I'm enjoying the entrainment. :-)

    Posted by: MT | Jan 3, 2013 2:16:40 PM


  14. I consider this article a SPOILER. Even the headline was. Bad form for posting it and not giving the reader a choice not to learn the info.

    Posted by: Me | Jan 3, 2013 2:16:53 PM


  15. And Dan White was just complex, weak, sad, and lonely because no one understood HIM in, faced with a wife, child, and failing side business to try to make up for his pauper salary as a San Francisco Supervisor in a world with a history of treating the Irish like bums and criminals [SEE: "paddy wagon"]...so NO ONE can blame him for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone????

    Children, please!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 2:29:57 PM


  16. And Dan White was just complex, weak, sad, and lonely because no one understood HIM in, faced with a wife, child, and failing side business to try to make up for his pauper salary as a San Francisco Supervisor in a world with a history of treating the Irish like bums and criminals [SEE: "paddy wagon"]...so NO ONE can blame him for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone????

    Children, please!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 2:29:58 PM


  17. And Dan White was just complex, weak, sad, and lonely because no one understood HIM in, faced with a wife, child, and failing side business to try to make up for his pauper salary as a San Francisco Supervisor in a world with a history of treating the Irish like bums and criminals [SEE: "paddy wagon"]...so NO ONE can blame him for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone????

    Children, please!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 2:30:00 PM


  18. And Dan White was just complex, weak, sad, and lonely because no one understood HIM in, faced with a wife, child, and failing side business to try to make up for his pauper salary as a San Francisco Supervisor in a world with a history of treating the Irish like bums and criminals [SEE: "paddy wagon"]...so NO ONE can blame him for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone????

    Children, please!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 2:30:02 PM


  19. This may come as a stunning shock to some commenters, but Downton Abbey is set in Britain during the first world war and not in San Francisco in the late 1970s.

    I know. It's hard to tell, apparently. Both eras looked so similar and all....

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 3, 2013 2:47:18 PM


  20. We propose a new word "Kiwitty," meaning "an attempt at sarcastic humor that blows up in the face of its author's invincible ignorance." "Downton Abbey"-era Brit playwright/song writer Noel Coward, economist John Maynard Keynes, writers E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, poet Siegfried Sassoon, painter Duncan Grant, actor Ivor Novello—among countless other gays—didn't engage in all the evil deed and plots that "Thomas" does, so shove those facts up your old dirt road.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 3, 2013 3:17:59 PM


  21. Can the whiners please stop whining about spoilers?

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 3, 2013 3:26:41 PM


  22. the show also contains otherwise "positive" characters who, due to historical context, are also opposing *their own* Equality.

    wealthy women opposing a woman's right to vote. and i'm sure we can suspect that, like Noel Coward, they're not too keen on the plights of ethnic minorities.

    because the show is set around WWI.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 3, 2013 3:30:28 PM


  23. I don't think Thomas is being played as "evil because he's gay." I think it's more nuanced and subtle than that.

    Among the servants, Thomas is among the most resentful of class privilege, but unlike Branson (who wants to smash the class system), Thomas wants in on it. His aspirations to do so by becoming the secret lover of a wealthy upper crust man have been disastrous. His attempts to get out of service just send him back to Downton Abbey, at one point begging for a new chance. He hates the place.

    Posted by: John D | Jan 3, 2013 4:02:44 PM


  24. Does anybody think that A Couple Dozen Moms will launch a crusade against PBS? Spending tax money to support the importation of a Gay Agenda trojan horse is a sure thing to speak out against--for a day or 3.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Jan 3, 2013 6:05:07 PM


  25. Wow, does all this mean that we got to see it first over here - for once !!! ?

    Posted by: coemgenus | Jan 3, 2013 6:57:21 PM


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