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Finally, we understand why Thomas is such a jerk on "Downton Abbey"

Even though “Downton Abbey” is a period piece, the story lines of the upstairs family and the downstairs staff are ones that strike a chord with its modern audience.

Fusion’s Alicia Menendez sat down with Rob James-Collier, who plays the drama-starting Thomas Barrow. Thomas is a gay man — which, in the Edwardian era in England, is a criminal offense. But his struggle with his sexuality is not a plot device that can be regulated to the past.

“In all the other seasons when he was threatened to be exposed, he wasn’t ashamed or apologized for who he was,” James-Collier told Menendez. “For the first time ever we see Thomas question himself, his sexuality and who he is.”

Collier told Menendez that this season would be a defining one for Thomas, with a “harrowing” story line that was both rewarding and challenging as an actor.

“The craziest thing was that this thing still goes on today, which I was well amazed when I did the research,” he told Menendez.

Most “Downton” fans will better understand Thomas and his character on the show as the upcoming season progresses.

“If you’re ever going to understand it, this is the season, and if you don’t understand it after this, I’m not doing my job as an actor.”

Downton Abbey season 5 premieres January 4, 2015 on Masterpiece on PBS.

Finally, we understand why Thomas is such a jerk on "Downton Abbey"

Even though “Downton Abbey” is a period piece, the story lines of the upstairs family and the downstairs staff are ones that strike a chord with its modern audience.

Fusion’s Alicia Menendez sat down with Rob James-Collier, who plays the drama-starting Thomas Barrow. Thomas is a gay man — which, in the Edwardian era in England, is a criminal offense. But his struggle with his sexuality is not a plot device that can be regulated to the past.

“In all the other seasons when he was threatened to be exposed, he wasn’t ashamed or apologized for who he was,” James-Collier told Menendez. “For the first time ever we see Thomas question himself, his sexuality and who he is.”

Collier told Menendez that this season would be a defining one for Thomas, with a “harrowing” story line that was both rewarding and challenging as an actor.

“The craziest thing was that this thing still goes on today, which I was well amazed when I did the research,” he told Menendez.

Most “Downton” fans will better understand Thomas and his character on the show as the upcoming season progresses.

“If you’re ever going to understand it, this is the season, and if you don’t understand it after this, I’m not doing my job as an actor.”

Downton Abbey season 5 premieres January 4, 2015 on Masterpiece on PBS.

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