Downton Abbey stars Rob James Collier and Sophie McShera were in South Africa recently. Better known as scheming footman Thomas and put-upon kitchen maid Daisy, the pair were eager to tease some upcoming developments in season three of Downton Abbey.
According to Rob, the saga of Mr and Mrs Bates will continue, with Anna investigating the charges while Bates languishes in prison. Rob drew a murmur of disbelief from the assembled crowed when he claimed that “you might feel a bit of sympathy” for Thomas during season 3, when a potential love affair goes horribly wrong.
Sophie, meanwhile joked that her character has a major upcoming story involving an oven: “It’s intense”, she said.
Both actors expressed excitement at the return of director Brian Percival, who helmed Downton Abbey’s acclaimed first season. Brian has returned to take the reins on season three, while American actress Shirley MacLaine will be joining the cast as a regular. Rob described Shirley as a “massive fan of the show” who had no trouble fitting in with the ensemble. Her character is set to prove a formidable foil for Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.
Speaking more generally, Rob said that he enjoyed playing a villain because “they’re the most complex characters”. He admitted the he “absolutely loved” playing Thomas and that, aside from his upcoming arc in season three, his favourite storyline was Thomas’s failed attempted to become a black-market trader after World War I.
Speaking about her character in season three, Sophie described her as “going through her teenage brat years… She turns on Mrs Patmore the way you turn on your mum when you’re about 16”. Looking back, she said that, although she has loved all the stories her character has been involved in, her favourite was her tragic marriage to William during season two.
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