Brendan Coyle entered our hearts by playing the ever-so-devoted gentleman John Bates in Downton Abbey, but he's taken on an entirely new beast with his latest project.

The 51-year-old actor stars in Esquire's first original scripted show Spotless, where he plays Nelson Clay, a ruthless crime boss who ends up flipping Jean's (Marc-André Grondin) world upside down, so when Coyle sat down with E! News to chat about his new role, there was one obvious question—what's it like going from Mr. Bates to Nelson Clay?

"A lot more fun, because I'm a huge fan of subtext and Bates was very interior and internal and subtextual," he tells us. "You weren't quite sure what he was thinking.  And I thought, after episode two, I told [our producers] we should really play with this. Is he a killer? Is he dark? So we cleverly, I think, played with that, and you don't know. We had fun with that."

Coyle continues, "When it comes to Spotless, Nelson Clay is much more expressive. It's probably my favorite part.

"We have this character, Jean, and he plays beautifully, brilliantly. He's very settled. Middle-class, Frenchman living in England, lovely family. And his brother turns up. He's a mad man. He's a renegade, drug dealer. He broils Marc-André, Jean, into his world, which ultimately, embroils them into my world. And then I realize that this extraordinary character, who has extraordinary skills, is something that adds another layer to my empire. It was a joy to play because it was much more expressive than interior."

However, fans of the show may notice a sort of bond and respect between Clay and Jean that seems more than just a win-win business exchange, and Coyle explains that.

"In the show, [Marc-André] has a brother who's insane. I have a brother who's sick-insane, in a different way. And he's almost like the brother I'd like to have, because it's that kind of warped moral code certain criminals have. I used to say to Marc-André, Jean, ‘You have skills. Very, very special skills, and I cannot let them slip through my fingers.' That's how our relationship develops, and he's kind of like the brother I wish I had, but I don't have."

Viewers are first introduced to Nelson Clay when he's cleaning glasses behind the bar, but if this cruel leader were to sit down and have a drink with the lovable Mr. Bates, how would that go down?

Entertaining our imagination, Coyle tells us, "I think they would drink really aged whiskey and they would tell stories of what they've been through, what they've put up with, and what they're prepared to not put up with anymore."

But that's not all Coyle talked to us about. Watch the clip above to hear about his Downton Abbey character's undeniable connection with Anna, and his thoughts on the series' end.

(E! and Esquire are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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