Belfast Telegraph

Rob: It's good to play the nice guy

Rob James-Collier has admitted he's enjoyed playing a more "likeable" character in a new TV drama.

The former Corrie actor has won a legion of fans playing Machiavellian gay footman Thomas in hit ITV show Downton Abbey.

Now, in his first lead role since Downton began, Rob plays 30-something builder Joe, who returns from his travels to find out his ex-girlfriend is pregnant after an affair, and who has to decide if he should step in to support her.

He admitted his latest role was a bit of a change from period drama. "It was weird because for the last year-and-a-half I've been schooled to keep my hands down by my side," he said.

"You have to completely neutralise your body language for Downton and it's all very much from the eyes. So when it comes to doing something contemporary, the shackles are off and you're free to express yourself.

"It was also nice to show something completely different from the dark character I play in Downton."

He's been offered similarly dark roles, but admitted he and his agent had cooked up a plan to pick something "completely worlds away from Thomas" to avoid being too typecast.

As for what Thomas gets up to in the third series of Downton, he's sworn to silence. Rob said: "He's definitely the same old guy, maybe he gets involved in a little bit of a relationship, but we'll have to wait and see. I want to talk about it, but Julian Fellowes will knock on my door and say 'What are you doing spoiling storylines?'

"Particularly the one about the flying saucer coming to Downton, I can't give that one away - it's a pearl of a story."

:: Love Life starts on ITV1 on Thursday, March 15.

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