“Downton Abbey” has its share of loveable characters and villains, but Thomas is one of those that you just love to hate. The backstabbing, petty, conniving and sneaky Thomas is both funny and entertaining to watch, and his back story makes it somewhat difficult to completely despise the guy. The horrible situation for homosexuals in Edwardian England is nothing to scoff at. “Downton Abbey” returns for a third season on PBS on January 6th, and Rob James-Collier (who plays Thomas) had a few things to say about his character and what viewers can expect from the third season.
James-Collier knows that Thomas is not the most likeable character on television, but he feels that he has a great following on “Downton”.” It's a love to hate him kind of thing” he says, “but because people love the show and you're on the show, it doesn't matter if you're a goodie or a baddie, you're part of a huge package and they love you. But in series three, for the first time ever, we get Thomas going on an emotional journey. A woman in London came up to me after one particular episode aired and said, "I hate you even more now because I cried for Thomas, and I hate that I did that."
Thomas’ sexuality has come into question and into controversy on the show on multiple occasions, and in season three viewers will get to see a bit more of how Thomas will navigate the delicate tight-rope he is walking at Downton. “It's been great. Julian [Fellowes, creator] gave me a great arc this series where we deal, head-on, with Thomas' sexuality. We talk about how it affects him and how it affects the other characters who live in Downton Abbey. It was great to get under his skin, look at some of the reasons why he's malevolent and trying to destroy everyone. At the same time, that shows vulnerability and frailty in him, which, at least with the British, has made the audience empathize with him in a new way. Being a homosexual in Edwardian Times could not have been easy. It was illegal, you're constantly afraid of being caught, society abhorred and condemned you; telling these people they were foul and twisted creatures. That has to have an effect on someone and I think it's great we tell that story in this series because it not only impacts Thomas, but so many other people in Downton. It has fascinating ramifications across the board.”
With everything that the series has in store for viewers in season three, there are a few things that James-Collier is most excited for. “They're going to get rewarded for their patience and being so loyal to the show. There is a wedding on the horizon but as is ever the way in Downton, things won't run smoothly in the run up to Matthew taking Mary down the aisle.” Also, he hinted that viewers will get to see a bit more of the relationship between Thomas and O’Brien, but this time they will be going head-to-head a lot more.
Are you a lover or a hater of Thomas on “Downton Abbey”?