DOWNTON OPENS THE DOOR TO AMERICAN DREAMS
ALLEN Leech – a. k. a Tom Branson – Downton Abbey’s activist upstart chauffeur- turned widowed estate manager and single dad living with the elite class, says the last time he was in LA “I couldn’t get a dog to bark at me”. Fast- forward a decade, and it’s January 2015, days after the Golden Globes, and Leech is doing double- duty on the publicity front – both for Downton and for feature fi lm The Imitation Game, in which he stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. People recognise him on the street. The aff able Irishman is now an actor in demand. Audiences are loving Downton Abbey – the period drama goes into its delayed- in- Australia fi fth season a worldwide hit, with fans still keen for a hefty serve of the trials, tribulations and intrigue of the upstairs elite and downstairs people who serve them.
In season fi ve, it’s the Roaring ’ 20s, and change is in the air. For Leech’s Branson it’s a new dawn.
“Tom is trying to fi nd out exactly who he is after all the turmoil,” says Leech. “He is trying to truly understand where he wants to be and who he wants to be. Whether he can truly be the person he wants to be surrounded by all the memories of his past.”
America beckons as a prospect, but Branson knows any moves to leave Downton will be met with opposition by the Crawleys – not only because of their love for his daughter, Sybbie, ( their last link to their late daughter), but also because of a their genuine love for Tom, and the fact he has become key to the running of the estate.
“And the thing is he does genuinely care for and love this family. It’s a very big decision,” Leech says.
“It’s more about achieving all he can in his life … it’s about him making sure he can do right by the family as well as right by his daughter and himself.”
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