Allen Leech Dishes About His Downton Abbey Experience - Exclusive

Matthew Crawley, John Bates, Thomas Barrow — the list of leading men featured within the brilliant ensemble cast of "Downton Abbey" goes on and on, and that collection certainly wouldn't be complete without Tom Branson. Brought to life by none other than Allen Leech, Tom took viewers on a rollercoaster (or maybe a slightly bumpy open-air car journey) of emotions as we watched him thrive, suffer, adjust, and finally accept life in the golden fast lane.

As a quick "Downton Abbey" series recap, Tom came to the abbey from comparatively humble beginnings and established himself as a chauffeur — but his deep connection to history and quite rebellious politics established a depth to the character, and Tom's romance with Sybil Crawley gave viewers an unexpected couple to root for in the series. Of course, tragedy struck, and so many of us were painstakingly wondering what Tom's future would look like as a single father, raising a young daughter without Sybil by his side.

Luckily for fans of the acclaimed series, Tom and the chorus of characters came back to the screen in 2019 in the form of a full-length feature film, and viewers have struck gold again with "Downton Abbey: A New Era" in theaters as of this month. Ahead of the premiere, Leech chatted exclusively with The List to discuss the new addition to the "Downton Abbey" story, his character development, and what his experience with the series has truly meant to him.

Allen Leech is just as much of a fan of 'Downton Abbey' as the viewers

When the TV series "Downton Abbey" came to an end in 2015, so many fans pondered the futures of their favorite characters. While the 2019 film gave us another beautiful chapter, there were still so many storylines that had yet to be wrapped up, and Allen Leech himself was eager for answers.

"As a fan of the show myself, I was really ... As you said, there were so many loose ends. I wanted to see what happened with [Mr.] Molesley, I wanted to see what happened to Tom [Branson], and to [Thomas] Barrow, so I was excited to read [the script of 'A New Era']," Leech told The List during the interview. "It feels like you're getting the first edition of something way in advance, so it's a bit of a privilege."

Of Tom's development throughout his "Downton Abbey" experience, Leech confessed that his character really didn't have a "choice" when it came to his development, as fate intervened in a cruel way. Despite the ups and downs, however, Leech always tried to keep Tom's beginnings — and political fierceness — in mind.

"I've always tried to hold onto that sense of who he was when he arrived," Leech explained. "I've always tried to keep a sense of the fact that he was always for the common person, the common working man or woman."

Leech connected to Tom's portrayal of the everyday person

A beautiful aspect of "Downton Abbey" — both the series and the films — is that viewers near and far are attracted to the characters and plots. When discussing his experience amid production, Allen Leech told The List that, in his own way, Tom Branson reflects the "Downton Abbey" viewer — and the common person — and almost serves as a reality check amid the abbey's world.

"That's always been the joy of playing this character because he also has been the eyes of the audience, I feel, especially if you're outside of the U.K. and outside of an understanding of the social structure," Leech shared. "A bit like Tom, you're looking at this thing and being like, 'What's going on?' It does seem very, very strange."

And while Tom's life, fortune, and prospects changed throughout the series, Leech never lost sight of his inner dynamic, praising the character for not "being completely enveloped in this world."

"Downton Abbey: A New Era" is now in theaters.