Downton Abbey | News | Rob James-Collier

Downton Abbey's Gay Footman Rob James-Collier on Being an 'Edwardian Sex Pest'

[SPOILERS - Don't read if you haven't seen last night's episode]

Rob James-Collier on the reaction to the action in last night's Downton Abbey episode:


It could be proper HBO. It’s quite gritty and dark, isn’t it? Thomas becomes besotted. Let’s face it, he borderline stalks Jimmy. He turns into an Edwardian sex pest. It’s pretty bad. But then he goes on this huge journey and he’s being manipulated by O’Brien into thinking this guy feels the same way. And he knows he doesn’t. The fallout from my kissing Jimmy was really dramatic....

It’s great to see there’s an impact downstairs and it’s not just those bastards upstairs. Thomas gets quite choked up, doesn’t he? And then after he kisses Jimmy, he’s just completely distraught and destroyed and vulnerable, and you feel sorry for him. I’ve had people come up to me in the street and go, “Oh my God, Thomas made me cry last night, and I hate you for making him make me cry because I love to hate him.” I’m messing up people’s lives. There was this punter who came up to me on the tube and goes, “Listen, mate, I don’t normally watch period drama.” That’s how it always starts, and the next line is, “my missus watches it.” And then the third is, “but I’ve actually started liking it. You f**king the man, man. Last night, the tears…” and then he just walks off! And you think, This is what I do it for...

...I just want to say thank you to everyone who watched and tuned in and loved my evil gayness.

More of his Vulture interview here.

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  1. I love the series. I felt a great deal of the sympathetic support for Thomas came out of an extreme dislike of O'Brien. There were also several mentions of everyone knowing about Thomas, just it not being official (as long as you didn't act on it or get caught) plus he's been there 10 years so he's sort of family and it would look bad on the house to have him exposed at this point or to dismiss him without recommendation.

    Ethel made her own bed by getting pregnant outside of marriage (she got caught). She would have been shunned almost as much for that as the prostitution which weren't seen as that much different. Next week is the finale of season 3 here in the states. Can't wait.

    Posted by: Felix | Feb 11, 2013 8:38:07 PM

  2. He looked delicious in that undershirt and the plot is moving along quite nicely.

    Posted by: LJC | Feb 11, 2013 9:23:47 PM

  3. It definitely wasn't believable - Thomas wouldn't have been treated so gently. But of course the whole program is a dandified soap opera - I admit I enjoy it but I don't think it's high art - and many other implausible things have happened in its world.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Feb 11, 2013 11:10:24 PM

  4. Thomas is more intimacy-frustrated than sexually frustrated (remember the touching scenes with the blinded soldier?)

    Btw, does anyone know how obriens soapy secret got to bates? She never told Thomas....

    Posted by: rick scatorum | Feb 12, 2013 1:08:37 AM

  5. Robert Crawley is not referred to as "Lord Crawley." Crawley is the family last name, but he is the Earl of Grantham and therefore is called Lord Grantham. The entail leaving the title and estate to only a male heir is what sets the plot in motion in series 1. When Robert dies, his heir (potentially Matthew without revealing spoilers) would be the next Lord Grantham, and Mary would then have her mother's title, Lady Grantham. Cora would then be the Dowager Countess, Maggie Smith's current title in the show, etc.

    That said, I didn't find their rather easy acceptance of Thomas' gayness very believable, even for post-Edwardian, post-WW I, 1920s England. He likely would have been fired immediately, especially after what was essentially an attempted assault on a fellow staff member.

    Posted by: Robert | Feb 12, 2013 1:19:36 AM

  6. My God what a series, far more exciting than Upstairs Downstairs years ago and which I thought this would be a replay of.

    I think it's all believable if for no other reason than that it is full of oddity (perhaps overfull) which is one of the things which distinguishes a good piece of writing from that of a hack. All the histories of these great houses and old families are full of unusual twists and turns, often shocking ones.

    Thomas is getting sweeter, I like him better and I just hope he'll end up with a nice man someday. His portrayal of distress was heartbreaking. I would like to see him rearrange some of the house mirrors so that O'Brien would open a door on the top floor and fall to her death.

    Tom, however, must be left for me. Either that or he and Thomas raise the baby together.

    What a feast.

    Posted by: DUH | Feb 12, 2013 2:59:19 AM

  7. Aside from vampire stories, these Brit Edwardian period shows bore me to death. I guess it's a form of escapism from PC modern times for some folks. I just have zero interest in watching the shenanigans of people living in a Victorian or Edwardian estate, their socioeconomic taboos and what-not, 100 plus years ago.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 12, 2013 3:04:02 PM

  8. I was surprised he received any support at all, but at the same time, we're looking at all of this from a recent perspective. Berlin right around this time period (20s-30s) had PLENTY of gay nightlife.

    Posted by: Billy | Feb 12, 2013 4:28:44 PM

  9. The only thing remotely realistic about this series is the manor. Other than that the storyline is a cheap contrived melodrama!

    Posted by: Excuse Me! | Nov 8, 2013 8:20:02 PM

  10. BCarter3,

    Just saw this, but FYI, you are right about Edward VII's reign dates, but the "Edwardian Period" was considered to continue into George V's reign due to the fact that the son continued many of the father's social conventions...

    I speak as a historian, if that gives any credence.

    Posted by: Pitt90 | Mar 20, 2014 10:08:51 AM

  11. Also, it's not "Lord Crawley," people, but "Lord Grantham." Crawley is the family name, Grantham the title.

    Posted by: Pitt90 | Mar 20, 2014 10:12:42 AM

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