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O'Brien tricks for Downton's Thomas

Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier has revealed footman Thomas has learned a few nasty tricks from housemaid O'Brien in the new series.

The actor admitted he really missed actress Siobhan Finneran, who does not return as Thomas' scheming partner in crime for season four. But he revealed he learned a lot from The Syndicate actress, and Thomas learned a lot from O'Brien too.

Rob said: "It's a tough one for me, because I love her as an actresss, I love her as a person. And I had this idea of how to play a villain, I'd never played one before, he was going to be big, grandiose and over the top.

"Then Siobhan turned up and we did rehearsal, and it was all behind the eyes, she was so still, so measured. And it made her so scary and so intimidating, and I thought, 'Yeah! That's the way to play it.' And I tried to copy her, unsuccessfully.

"It was great. I learn from people like Siobhan. She's the best actor I've ever acted with. And she's very much missed by myself and everyone in the crew."

The last series saw Thomas outed as gay after he misread the signals and made a pass at footman Jimmy, but Butler Carson and the Earl of Grantham saved him from being reported to the police.

Rob said that Thomas' near downfall - as homosexuality was illegal in that period of history - has not changed him.

He revealed: "Thomas is raising anarchy and creating mayhem in Downton Abbey. You'd think last year would have humbled him, when he was outed and his reputation was nearly ruined, he could have gone to prison. But he's back to his same old self.

"I don't know if he's meaner... he's more devious, he's cleverer. He's not so brazen, he's a lot more subtle. In many ways he replaces O'Brien for spinning webs of deceit."

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