‘Downton Abbey’ Director Discusses the Realities of Crafting a 1920s Closeted Gay Romance

‘Downton Abbey’ Director Discusses the Realities of Crafting a 1920s Closeted Gay Romance
Romance is finally on the menu for the scheming butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) in Julian Fellowes’ “Downton Abbey” film, a follow-up to the Emmy-winning TV series. But given the 1920s time period, his same-sex relationship won’t be without its obstacles. Director Michael Engler spoke to IndieWire about Thomas’ promising romance, and the realities the filmmakers had to face in giving him even that much happiness.

“First of all, [Julian Fellowes] always wanted it to feel authentic, that even if we were creating an opportunity for Thomas like one he hadn’t had before – more romantic and a bit of an awakening – that we didn’t also soft-pedal it, that we make sure that the rough parts of it felt rough,” said Engler.

Engler had directed several episodes of the original series, including the series finale Christmas special that ended on an optimistic note for most of the characters. At the time,
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