Rob James-Collier stumbled into acting. His first experience with the craft was when he was asked by a desperate friend, who was one actor short, to fill in for his film shoot. Shortly after that, Rob found an acting coach in the Yellow Pages and started taking acting classes after work, and so began the career of this handsome English heart-throb.
Despite limited acting experience, Rob scored the role of a womanising pub landlord in the series Down to Earth when he convinced stars
Ricky Tomlinson and Denise Welch of his talent.
After this he appeared in one-off episodes for a number of television series, but in 2006 lucked out and joined the cast of
Coronation Street as one of two brothers who were buying into the local underwear factory.
The business and marketing graduate gained critical acclaim as Liam Connor in Coronation Street.
Liam’s storylines centred on his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Sutherland, who he agreed to marry. But secretly Liam was in love with Carla, and they pursued a tumultuous on-off love affair.
In 2008 Rob announced he was leaving the Street, but planned to return in the future. However it was written into the script that Rob’s character would be brutally killed off as part of a murder-mystery storyline that would bring three of the soap’s favourite characters under suspicion for the murder.
It turned out Liam was murdered by Carla’s fiancé, who felt threatened by their obvious affection for one another. The storyline won Rob Best Exit at the 2009 British Soap Awards.
The good-looking actor also tried his hand at modelling, and was the face of British catalogue retailer Argos Company in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, he was awarded the titles of Sexiest Male and Best Newcomer at Britain’s Inside Soap Awards.
Throughout his time on Coronation Street, Rob also had a number of one-off appearances in other television programmes. After leaving the show, he was offered the part of gay footman Thomas Barrow in Downton Abbey, the role he is now most famously known for, and one for which he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Rob says he was only meant to play the show’s notorious villain for one season, but his character ended up becoming a series favourite. The 40-year-old actor is critical of his early performances on Downton Abbey but says by the end of it he had really honed his skills and refined the character.
He keeps his personal life private but has a young son, born in 2010, with his partner Lauren Chandiram.
The actor has joked that it’s easier playing a gay character, such as Thomas Barrow, because his missus does not get jealous about his onscreen romances.
“The actor also tried his hand at modelling and was awarded the title of Sexiest Male. ”