Siobhan Finneran, Downton Abbey, Rob James-Collier


Shaved heads weren't exactly in fashion in 1920s England, so why has one of the stars of Downton Abbey buzzed his hair nearly to the scalp?

"I shaved it off for a role where I was playing a crazy psychotic drug dealer," Rob James-Collier, who plays closeted gay under-butler Thomas Barrow on the hit drama, told me earlier this week at the Downton Q&A.

Lack of hair means James-Collier has to wear a wig while shooting Downton's fourth season.

"It's the king of wigs," he said. "It cost about 4,000 pounds [that's about $6,270]. As wigs go, it's beautiful. And it means if I ever go bald, I can stick the wig on so I'll always have work."

As for his character Thomas, he no longer has Miss O'Brien to conspire with because actress Siobhan Finneran decided to leave the show.

Thomas does find a new "evil partner, " James-Collier said. "He goes through a few, but he gets one eventually. Whether he lasts, we'll have to see."

What we probably won't be seeing is Thomas finding love on the show.

Downton is set during a time when homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain.

"I can't see it on the horizons, to be honest," James-Collier said. "He's been unlucky in love. I mean, when you go around kissing men while they're asleep you're not going to get a positive response…You can't go around doing that. It's not the way to strike up a relationship."

He added with a smile, "Take him on a few dates at least."

Kidding aside, "If Thomas did find love," James-Collier said, "he'd probably be in a jail cell."

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