With a September 13 release date, the Downton Abbey movie is fast approaching — and with it, one Thomas Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier. According to James-Collier, the movie's likely to satisfy fans who were left bereft by the show's 2015 ending: he told Metro, "It ties up a lot of loose ends."
"With shows like Sex And The City and The Inbetweeners having successful films, there was precedence there. Downton is an established brand now, so for me it was a bit of a no-brainer to do a film. And I’m glad they did," the actor said. "I think there was a demand for it." (If the 200,000+ reactions on the Facebook announcement of the film back in July 2018 are anything to go by, he's not wrong about that demand.) So what other details did Metro eke out of him?
A quick recap: in series six of Downton Abbey, Thomas attempted suicide, fearing for his future (thanks, in part, to the homophobic suspicions of the other household members). In the subsequent Christmas special, he returned to Downton Abbey, succeeding Mr Carson as butler.
As the trailer revealed, the movie introduces a love interest for Thomas. "He’s sort of a film within a film," James-Collier told Metro. "Mr Carson is brought back to help when the royal family visit the abbey and Thomas sees it as a slight of his abilities so he stands himself down for the duration of their visit and goes off and has an adventure. So it was strange because I was back with everyone for parts of it but for big parts I was on my own filming up in Bradford."
"It was like I was doing a Thomas Barrow special, which I think everyone wants to see!" he added.
James-Collier didn't always plan on an acting career, he revealed. "I did a business studies degree and marketing master’s but as soon as I started working in marketing, I just couldn’t see myself in an office for the next 30 years. So I started adult acting classes in Manchester," he told the paper.
Downton Abbey, unsurprisingly, was a game changer. "To have stability for the six to seven years we did it was fantastic. It gave me a bit more exposure, so people know me now for Downton, and I met a lot of good people and friends for life, but other than that I’m the same old me," he said. "I was lucky enough to be brought on the cast and do something new, then for it to go viral worldwide and become this phenomenon. And we’re still enjoying it."
A highlight? George Clooney's appearance in the 2014 Text Santa charity Christmas special. "I’ve never seen a set go so quiet when someone has walked on," James-Collier said. "There’s so much of an aura about the man, what a top guy."
The actor's hopes for the Downton Abbey movie sound modest: "hopefully it will be received well," he told Metro. Robert, based on the continued fervour for all things Downton, I really don't think you need to worry about that.