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Straight, Cisgender Downton Abbey Star Says Playing Gay Hurt His Career

Rob James-Collier

Representation of the LGBTQ community in Hollywood has always been an uphill battle and, for many actors, the struggle for equality is real. The struggle is also real for Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier, apparently. The straight, cisgender actor who played the role of gay, villainous under-butler Thomas Barrow on the show spoke with Radio Times recently about how terribly hard his career has been now that he gets typecast for gay roles.

Related | LGBTQ Diversity on TV Still Overwhelmingly White & Male

“Because Thomas Barrow is gay and is, essentially, the bad guy for much of the show, a lot of people within the industry can only see you as that,” he explained. “They might not be in a rush to see you as a heterosexual love interest. That takes time.” You know what also happens to take time? Getting even an inch of progress for LGBTQ representation in Hollywood. That’s not to say James-Collier isn’t getting roles, of course. The problem is that the roles he’s been offered are “gay characters,” which he’s turning down because he “really wanted to show something different.”

Of course, it’s not entirely his fault that he’s being typecast—the problem is with Hollywood in general. While LGBTQ actors struggle to find any roles offered to them, producers and casting directors are apparently falling over themselves to continue the old Hollywood trend of offering the role of gay characters to straight actors like James-Collier. Excuse us if we don’t exactly emphasize with a straight, cis actor complaining about how playing gay hurt his burgeoning Hollywood career two years after saying the playing a gay character was a "privilege."

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