Rob James-Collier

Rob James-Collier

Rob James-Collier was out of work for seven months after 'Downton Abbey' ended last year.

The 39-year-old actor may have played one of the most loved characters in the period drama, which concluded last Christmas, but he has admitted he didn't have much luck when it came to securing roles after the popular show.

Speaking at the launch of his new ITV thriller 'The Level', he said: "I spend more time out of work than in work, so it couldn't be frustrating or I wouldn't be able to survive.

"I was waiting for the right thing and I could've been waiting for years. You just don't know - and then this thankfully came along in the same way that 'Downton...' came along."

Rob melted hearts around the globe for five years while was portraying gay under-butler Thomas Barrow in 'Downton Abbey' but he's now desperately trying to shed anything related to that role so he doesn't get pigeonholed.

He explained: "I always try and do something new and different. Unfortunately it's not always the way it turns out - because it's hard, it's a tough game to be in. And I always say it, but there's better actors than me out of work all the time."

And Rob's new role in 'The Level' is a world away from Thomas as he now portrays police officer Kevin O'Dowd.

He said of the new series: "It was a no-brainer, because it was a powerful, energetic script, and very fast-paced. Something's constantly happening - you have to keep your mind on the game to keep up with it. You won't get bored watching it!"