[Minimal spoilers ahead] We’ve seen a preview screening of the Downton Abbey movie which opens in U.S. theaters on September 20 and fans of the series should be pleased with what they get. Of particular interest to gay fans will be the storyline surrounding valet-turned-butler Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier), whose dark journey during the series saw him take some wrenching steps to try and “cure” himself of homosexuality.
Creator and screenwriter Julian Fellowes gives ample screen time to this topic in the first feature film, which takes place in 1927, and (without giving away any of the major plot points) James-Collier said he was grateful for the opportunity to expand on his character’s story.
Said James-Collier to the Press Association: “[Barrow’s storyline is] like a separate film so what a lovely thing, Thomas has got this little vignette off on the side. When all the pomp and circumstance with the royal visit is going on, you cut to Thomas’s story so I’m like ‘Thank you Julian (Fellowes, the writer) for trusting me that I can do this.’ You see Thomas discover a whole new world, and that is closer to who he is and there is a joy there, but then that joy may get taken away but it’s a very emotional, Thomas’s journey. It also hammers home what it was like to be a gay man in those times, it was horrific and it’s brought back and it just shows how different it was. It must have been so hard for him and that is why the people warm to him and root for Thomas now, and they certainly will in the film if you watch it.”