Rob James-Collier for OUT Magazine

Posted on January 07, 2013

Since we’ve all got Downton on the brain today, darlings, let’s all gaze lovingly for a moment at the valet we love to hate.  There are worse ways to spend your time.


‘Downton Abbey’ star Rob James-Collier covers the February 2013 issue of OUT magazine photographed by David Bailey and styled by by Julian Ganio.

“My agent said, ‘Listen, you’ve got the part that everyone in town wants—he’s a villain, he’s a great role, the only bad thing is that he dies at the end of the first series,’ ” recalls James-Collier. But Thomas clicked with the audience, and his on-screen chemistry with his maid counterpart, O’Brien (a wonderfully surly Siobhan Finneran), was irresistible. “I gave it 110 percent, and after the first couple of episodes, Liz, the producer, came to me and said, ‘We want you to stay on. Will you?’ And I was, like, ‘Fuck, yeah.’ ”

“Downton Abbey is a workplace like any other. You’re going to get cliques of people who don’t like each other — Thomas and O’Brien versus Bates and Anna — and you’re going to get people who really love doing their jobs and people who are bitter and feel they’re just a number. It’s about relationships in the workplace environment, and people can identify with that because the same problems and political conflicts you have in work today were relevant back then.”

“If you were gay in those times, the fact that you’re even functioning, how you’re not completely fucked up by that, is beyond me.”

“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.”

Not much of an editorial, but that boy’s got FACE.


[Photo Credit: David Bailey for OUT magazine]

    • Frank_821

      He certainly does. Didn’t know his character was suppose to die. Says a lot about the actor. and yes it is fun to hate on Thomas (and O’Brien)

    • AbbottRabbit

      What a handsome bastard. 

      But: “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.”

      Having seen series 3, this gets a big ole’ “eyeroll” from me…

      • H3ff

        This seriously borders on spoilerish.

        • AbbottRabbit

          Only if you consider the fact that Thomas’s sexuality comes up at some point in the season — as it does every season — a spoiler. 

          • H3ff

            I wish your implication was that vague. I haven’t seen all of the 3rd series, but I now know not to expect any kind of satisfying storyline about Thomas’ love life. 

            There is really no point in revealing upcoming storylines on internet discussion forums, even implicitly. No one thinks you any more intelligent or enlightened for it.

            • AbbottRabbit

              I never said anything about his “love life” — you’re reading that into my response. Both his quotation and my reaction to it dealt with the show’s handling of his homosexuality, full stop, which is far more nuanced than “will Thomas finally get a beau?” 

              I’m sorry your assumptions about what I said led you to draw conclusions about the trajectory the third season takes, but those conclusions aren’t grounded in what I actually said. 

    • Sobaika

      My heart skipped a beat (as did my nether regions). He is seriously attractive in a way that doesn’t come across on the show.

      • guest2visits

        He’s chatty, interesting, and fun in interviews.  But on the show I can’t wait for him to meet his end in some seriously
        final way – like a large portion of the castle estate could come loose at just the right moment and he could look up just
        before he gets flattened; Wile E. Coyote style.

        • mattesse

          Let’s see how you feel at the end of series three…

      • H3ff

        I find him just too pale on the show (although understandably intentional).

    • gabbilevy

      The photo with the drawn-on devil horns is adorable. But also he is hawt. He’s really got a face built for stubble.

    • crash1212

      Man can totally work the scruffy beard like a boss.

      • HengRu

         Yes! He looks so much better with a bit of scruff. Just like Bates looks better when he’s kind of rumpled and his hair is mussed up (i.e., when he’s in prison).

    • Judy_J

      I’m not a fan of cigarette smoking, but he and Steve Buscemi have the most interesting and unique way of holding and smoking a cigarette. I find that fascinating.

    • nannypoo

      I think he is spectacularly handsome off the show, when his hair is a little messy and his clothes are casual, like in these pictures. Although Thomas is nasty and despicable, he has depth and complexity and I find him absolutely convincing. The scene last season where he trashes the shed was really a great piece of acting. I’ve never seen him in anything else but I am a huge fan.

    • Linda Merrill

      Every time I see him in an interview I am reminded of how good an actor he really is. As himself he’s so amiable and loose, as Thomas he’s so starched and self-composed, but not in a good way. In that way he’s similar to Don Draper/John Hamm.

      • Elizabeth Silverstein

        Excellent Draper/Hammm analogy

    • Imasewsure

      Cutie and actually giving different looks in each photo!!

    • Fordzo

      Anyone know how Thomas was supposed to die?

      • MRC210

        In other interviews, he has said that when he auditioned for the role of Thomas he was told that Thomas would be fired after a few episodes.  I’ve never heard that Thomas was supposed to die before.

    • hughman

      Too bad they didn’t have Grindr back then cause Thomas would have been valeting his ass off. 

    • j_anson

      He’s prettier when he doesn’t have to make sulky-villain-face all the time!

    • Krysta

      ZOMG he has more than one expression!  Like that.

    • MissMariRose


    • foodycatAlicia

      Gosh he’s attractive. The second last pic is a bit too pouty for me though.

      • nannypoo

         The last one is my favorite. So hot.

    • jilly_d

      UNFF man-stubble. I’ll be in my bunk.

    • Ms. Swegler

      *fanning myself* Lord… thank you for beautiful men like this one. 

    • UglyTalents

      Dayum! Mama likey! 

    • MilaXX

      These pics are yummy!

    • librarygrrl64

      A very handsome young man, indeed. And probably a hell of a lot of fun IRL. “Villains” usually are. :-)

    • emily

      Wow. Just wow. He’s smoking hot.

      But I agree that there are times I wish he’d already died.

    • withbreaththatisbaited

      So hot. I’m starting to like Thomas, because…so hot. 

    • Elizabeth

      Oh, thank you, Uncles! Can’t get enough of Rob Collier. This man seriously needs to be given more opportunities. So much more than just a pretty face (but what a pretty face). Compare him to some of our “leading men” across the pond and the yanks are found sorely wanting. I think I’m sorely wanting right now (in a totally different way).

    • L.


    • YourBaloneyDontGotNoSecondName

      my goodness he pretty.

    • StellaZafella

      I still feel the same way about Timothy Dalton. YUM!

    • mattesse

      Rob is gorgeous and a very talented actor. Having seen all of the third series, he’s the real stand-out. He does wonders with his hot mess of a storyline.

    • Tatiana Luján

      not only does he have face, but he GIVES face.

    • marlie

       Wow – he’s HOT!

    • MajorBedhead

      I really love Thomas, after seeing all of season 3. I started to feel more sympathetic towards him at the end of season 2. I think he’s a great character.

      And yeah, the man gives good face. Man, he’s gorgeous.

    • wamalarkey

      so, so different in interviews than he is as Thomas. That speaks a LOT to his acting ability. Huzzah!

    • Gotham Tomato

      He does have face and these pictures don’t even do him justice! He is so much better looking in person. But I’m curious: I now wonder how they had been planning to kill Thomas off.


      • Shawn EH

         I’m guessing at war, like William.

    • ThaliaMenninger

      I liked him better in this last episode (as a character, I mean). I’m feeling sympathy for Thomas that I didn’t feel before. Maybe it’s because he and O’Brien aren’t partners, anymore. Oh noes! I think I’m on Team Thomas!

    • Victoria Weinstein

      WHOA. My heavens!! The plaids and polka dots are adorable, and he is a dish and a half. 

    • Vera

      Wow. I mean I didn’t think he was unattractive, but also didn’t realize he was so handsome.

    • Mary

      Wish it wasn’t covered by scruff, I think clean-shaven works better on him.

    • Kent Roby

      Today’s TLo viewing is catapulting me into a serious personal identity crisis: I’m equally turned on by this chap and Fei Fei!

    • Le_Sigh

      He’s so pretty!

    • Fatima Siddique

      Love that last photo. 

    • Soren Lundi

      Does everyone really still ‘love to hate’ Thomas?  I realise my relationship with show is a bit antogonistic, but he’s one of the few characters on this show I actually like.

    • Kim Brightman

      If I were to see him in person, I’m not sure I could actually look at him, he’s so damn HOT!