Rob James-Collier works hard for Downton

Former 'Coronation Street' actor Rob James-Collier admits he had to ''up his game'' to keep up with his 'Downton Abbey' co-stars like Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville

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Rob James-Collier

Rob James-Collier

Rob James-Collier had to "up his game" to keep up with his 'Downton Abbey' co-stars.

The former 'Coronation Street' actor - who plays corrupt footman Thomas in the new ITV1 period drama - felt like he had to give "120 per cent" when starring alongside Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville in the show, because acting has always been difficult for him.

He told BANG Showbiz: "Acting has been a challenge for me from day one. I've got friends who acting just comes naturally to them. I've had to work really hard.

"With a cast like this, I had to be working at 120 per cent the whole time just to keep up with them, but that can only make me a better actor. It's definitely made me up my game."

The 34-year-old star - who previously played Liam Connor in ITV1's 'Coronation Street' - also admitted he feels very "lucky" in his career, as there are people who are much better actors than him.

He explained: "It was just a quirk of fate that I fell into it. I wasn't happy with what I was doing, but I had never specifically intended to become an actor. My friend was doing a student film at Salford University and one of the actors dropped out. Me being me, I was game for a laugh and turned up and did this part unpaid on a cold Sunday morning on my day off and ended up absolutely loving it.

"I went through the Yellow Pages to find an agent and called up the first bloke I saw and started acting classes the next week. Four months later I got my first job! I was incredibly lucky. There are a lot of people who are better actors out there than me."

The first episode of the seven-part drama series aired last night (26.09.10) on ITV1.

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