Ok, I'm Allen Leech, I'm an actor on DOWTON ABBEY.

The Downton Abbey, Season 5 finale concludes in the US this Sunday, March 1 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS..

Come here for spoilers!


Photo proof! https://twitter.com/Allenleech/status/570197135175643137

retweet: https://twitter.com/reddit_AMA/status/570221898652655616

Victoria's assisting me over the today. AMA.

Update Thank you so much for your wonderful questions. Don't forget to watch the season finale on PBS this Sunday! If you haven't already illegally downloaded it, tut-tut.

And let's make this a yearly thing!

Like the migration of the salmon, let's make this a yearly thing.

Comments: 719 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

baskiceballer250 karma

Hey Allen! I'm a huge fan of Downton Abbey. Thanks for answering our questions today and being beautiful.

  1. How did your experience filming the show change when Branson moved from downstairs to upstairs?

  2. What was it like meeting your long-lost son Niall Horan?

AllenLeech230 karma

1.) Eh - the format of filming the scenes is very different, because of the constraints of the house. There's a lot more pressure upstairs than there is downstairs to get the scenes finished.

2.) It's always a pleasure meeting my son. I miss him.

WhovianMoak234 karma

I can't wait to see how they keep you in Downton!

My question is: Can Carson and Mrs. Hughes just get to it already? would you mind putting in a word with the boss in that regard.

AllenLeech234 karma

Stay tuned... !!!!!!!

streamstroller181 karma

Hi! Why does Branson always stand with his hands behind his back?

AllenLeech868 karma

Because I'm texting.

AllenLeech175 karma

Right now... what IS my favorite snack? I don't really snack... I'm gonna have to go with Tunnock's caramel wafers!

I kinda feel like we're - have you seen HER? You're my Scarlett Johannson right now.

Bentumbo174 karma

who's your favorite actor/actress to work with?

AllenLeech842 karma

The Notorious M.A.G.

ReadTheBookFirst168 karma

Rumor has it the dog playing Isis liked you best. Were you sneaking her doggy treats when no one was looking?

AllenLeech440 karma

On the show, I'm known as the "child whisperer" because I can get the kids to do what they're supposed to in scenes. The same goes for the dog.

TomBransonFan162 karma

Hello Allen, we're all so sad, because it looks like you're leaving! Can you tell us if you will be in series 6 please??

AllenLeech301 karma

Petition Julian Fellowes! I think Branson's home is Downton Abbey, and I hope Julian thinks so too.

mikomimi89143 karma

What scene was the most challenging for you? Why? (Thanks for answering questions today. You're my favorite on Downton)

AllenLeech374 karma

Aw, thank you whoever said that!

Probably the death scene with Sybil in season 3. Because we shot it over 2 days, and it was just emotionally draining.

ohsnapmindblown135 karma

Thank you for your contribution to a tremendous show. My wife and I were wondering recently if society has lost something of value by no longer dressing (and behaving) to such formal extent for occassions as common as family dinner. I can only imagine that you have had to ask yourself similar questions in your process of portraying a man torn between two quite different worlds. Do you feel we have lost something of value in choosing to live such informal lives?

AllenLeech349 karma


Great question, to start with. I think we've lost the value of conversation at the dinner table. It used to be a place that people came together, and discussed their lives with the people that were so close to them. And I think we've lost that.

And also, who doesn't like getting dressed up for dinner?

I still wear a tux for every meal.

phoenixiss130 karma

Hello Allan! Thank yoi for doning this AMA. My question is: How was working with Benedict Cumberbatch on the "The Imitation Game" set? Huge fan of your work!

AllenLeech486 karma

I went in a Cumber-babe, and I left a Cumber-bitch.

I think he's brilliant. He's a great actor, and a great man. And a great friend.

itsteaandlace2007122 karma

Hello and thank you for doing this, Allen. I love you on Downton. :)

Do you have a favorite type of tea?

AllenLeech302 karma


I love chai tea. But obviously, not the latte, not like a coffee, but a really nice chai tea.

And also Yorkshire tea, if I'm going for normal tea.

buttsareforfarting117 karma

Hey Allen! Tom's been my favourite on Downton since the beginning, but maybe a little bit of that is because I have a soft spot for Irish accents 😁

So, who do you want to see sit the Iron Throne? (dead characters can also be answers)

AllenLeech238 karma

Ehm - damn your HBO question! This is a PBS question!

I'll set the Lannisters on you!

Vampirebonfire1112 karma

Have you ever been completely star struck by anyone?

AllenLeech331 karma


Maggie Smith, for one.

When I first started working with her. And when I was at an event in New York, I saw Robert De Niro and got completely tongue-tied.

TomBransonFan106 karma

Allen, I tried to ask that question numerous times, but it never came through: The fandom dies to know! What was Branson going to ask in Series 1 at the garden party? When he and Sybil held hand and he started with: "I don't suppose..." and then Mrs Hughes interrupted them???

AllenLeech218 karma

Euh - I always wanted to continue the line and say "I don't suppose we could go somewhere to talk?"

hugs_and_drugz90 karma

Hi Allen! I'm such a fan of yours, so thank you for doing this AMA! I have two questions for you :)

Do you still keep in contact with the actress who plays Sybil? Your relationship story line was so beautiful and I bawled my eyes when she passed.

What's it like working with Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael? They seem so fun to work with! I always feel so bad for Edith, who never seems to have a happy storyline :(

Thank you! :)

AllenLeech202 karma

I haven't seen Jess in a while, but Laura saw her recently. You're right, we should do a catch-up soon.

They're great. Great actresses, and great ladies. And actually get on incredibly well in real life, which makes playing those scenes even more fun for them.

Poor Edith...

hanngoo87 karma

If you could change one thing in a past Downton Abbey ep script, what would you change? Why?

AllenLeech441 karma

That's a good question. What would I change in a past script?

Oh-oh-oh! Hems and haws!

I wish that Branson would've found the nanny calling his daughter a dirty half-breed, because that nanny would've found her way out a first-floor window!

rachthetank83 karma

What was your take on the Sarah Bunting storyline? Was she meant to be so divisive?

AllenLeech151 karma

Her divisiveness reminded Tom of who he used to be. So i thought it was important for him to have met her.

ilovecheeeeese74 karma

Hi Allen! I really enjoy watching you on Downton.

What would you do if you weren't an actor? What is a dream project of yours (does not have to be related to acting)?

AllenLeech223 karma

My mother, before Downton, always introduced me as "This is my son Allen, he could've been an architect." So I suppose - I was always fascinated by buildings, and stuff.

I write with a friend of mine called Tom Aspell, and I'd love to see one of our projects get made into a movie soon!

shana_rosee69 karma

You and Matthew Goode are hilarious together. If you guys did a sitcom what would it be called?

AllenLeech242 karma

THE GOODE LIFE. We'd be 2 cops. But we both play goode cops.

Coffeeaddict78367 karma

For someone who is considering watching the show (me), how would you best describe the show in one sentence?

AllenLeech337 karma

The best stories are always told behind closed doors.

plasticcastle66 karma

Hi Allen, I think you and I were at Trinity at the same time, although I don't think we met. My question is, where would you go for dinner in Dublin?

AllenLeech170 karma

Are you asking me on a date?

BigDikkJohnson65 karma

How did you like working on Rome and the peeps at HBO? Does working with HBO differ from other networks in any significant way?

AllenLeech169 karma

I loved working on ROME. It was my first major TV show. HBO prefers less clothing.

imtotallynormal64 karma

I admire the bromance between Rob James-Collier and yourself and find it interesting how much Thomas seems to hate Branson. For scenes you two do rarely have together, how difficult is it to film those?

AllenLeech145 karma

Impossible. Because we end up laughing at each other the entire time.

That's probably why they don't write very many scenes for us!

geauxjash4562 karma

What was your last dream about?

AllenLeech224 karma

Eh - that's a good question!

Oh, crystal meth, because I'm in the middle of BREAKING BAD, season 5.

MooBitches59 karma

Hi, Allen! Does the finale have any cows in it?

Moo, bitches!

AllenLeech172 karma

Moo yourself!


87_taylorp59 karma

Hey Allen! Big fan of yours. Was wondering what some of the biggest pranks on set were?

AllenLeech130 karma

Ehm - certainly Rob James-Collier and myself are the main pranksters, and season 1 we weren't able to top. We sewed up his trouser legs so he get into his costume. William was the character, Thomas Howes was the actor.

malkindeclanmom54 karma

I've enjoyed seeing how Tom's character has evolved and especially enjoy seeing the scenes with his daughter. I hope they develop that storyline more--but keep them at Downton!

Do you see the Tom and Mary characters getting together? The story seemed to hint at that during Rose's wedding reception.

AllenLeech195 karma

I think Mary and Branson have become kindred spirits in the fact that they both lost in the same way, far too soon. I think they are good friends, I could never see it moving past that. I think part of Tom will always be slightly scared of Mary.

lordlass52 karma

Hi Allen! What is it like working with your on screen daughter, Fifi Hart? She is adorable! PS We will miss you on Downton! :(

AllenLeech100 karma

She's the most incredible young actress I've ever worked with. She's so professional, even when she's been giving a note, it doesn't look like she's missed a thing, and then she does EXACTLY what she's been told while the cameras are rolling.

c-line45 karma

Hi Allen! What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on set (or on a press junket)?

AllenLeech110 karma

Too many times to recount, all of them involving Rob James-Collier.

Stinktiere44 karma

You did some voice acting for Assassin's Creed 3 - how did you find the experience and would you do any more video game voicing?

AllenLeech134 karma

I found it very strange, very different, and i have already done more voice work for video games. And it's called WITCHER 3.

Mentoman7243 karma

Big fan. What's your favorite memory on set?

AllenLeech114 karma

Euh... the arrival of Shirley Maclaine, because of the amount of cast we had there, and going into season 3, there was a great sense of excitement.

artgeek1742 karma

Thank you so much for doing an AMA!! Downton Abbey is my favorite. I have two questions...

  1. What's one thing you think people probably don't realize/understand about your job?

  2. What's the best advice you've ever been given?

AllenLeech99 karma

1.) Eh - the working hours are much longer than people think. You start, normally you leave your home at 4 AM and you don't finish until 8 PM. And then you're back on the road at 5 AM. So the hours are long. And people think it's glamorous, but it's actually monotonous.

2.) Don't be afraid to fail.

sn0py41 karma

Did you see Graham Moore's Oscar Acceptance speech? I thought it was the best of the show.

AllenLeech64 karma

I thought it was too. He's a wonderful writer and a wonderful man. And I was immensely proud of him.

Staceybunnie40 karma

Hi Allen! Love your work in Downton Abbey. Are you Irish in real life? Also, have you been working on other things besides Downton? If not, do you plan to?

AllenLeech160 karma

THANK YOU! I'm Swedish, nobody ever asks me that!

rachthetank38 karma

Downton has become such a cultural reference point in the last few years, even though it is set in a period dramatically different from today. What, in your opinion, draws us, as viewers, so enthusiastically to Downton Abbey?

AllenLeech139 karma

I think people are fascinated by British history. And it's the fact that Downton allows you to see into this house - and ALL of the house, not just the grandeur of upstairs, but the gritty underbelly that made the house work.

And while there's a hierarchy in the house, there's not a hierarchy in how the story is told. So you learn just as much about Lord Grantham as you do about Daisy the kitchen-maid.

rachthetank38 karma

Do you feel the viewing experience is different for British vs. US audiences, in terms of cultural context?

AllenLeech112 karma

Absolutely. I think it's very different. And that's one of the fascinating things traveling around the world with this show, to see the different elements the audience gets out of it with the context - because, keep in mind, in the UK, some people still live like this!

Vendetta616138 karma

Which person on the cast of Downton Abbey do you hate? We know there's at least one.

AllenLeech126 karma

The dog. But it's dead now.


Evil laugh.

AllenLeech87 karma

Most disobedient dog ever!

foca936 karma

Hi! How did you like your part in Black Mirror, do you watch and/or like the show, and would you want to do an even bigger role in an episode?

AllenLeech69 karma

I loved my part in BLACK MIRROR. I loved Charlie Brooker's dark and twisted mind. I'd love to be a main role in one of them.

Heron7832 karma

Given the chance, would you want to be Dame Maggie Smith's personal driver?

AllenLeech78 karma

I would JUMP at the opportunity. As long as I got to pick the car.

AllenLeech108 karma

And she's buyin.'

FannaWuck30 karma

What peanut butter to jelly(jam?) ratio do you like your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

AllenLeech82 karma

I would like 50/50.

KarenNg30 karma

YOU PERFORM AS TOM INCREDIBLY!! :") which is your favourite musical – and have you ever performed in a musical?

AllenLeech74 karma

Thank you, first of all, that's very kind.

Hahaha! Favorite musical would be The Wizard of Oz, and it was the very first musical that I did at the age of 11, and it's why I became an actor. I played the Lion.

kbeg29 karma

Loved you in the Imitation Game and on Downton! What other projects do you have coming up that we can see you in?

AllenLeech51 karma

Just as I mentioned - HUNTER'S PRAYER, the movie, with Sam Worthington and Odeya Rush, who's good friends with Taylor Swift.

TomBransonFan28 karma

Why were you at the press call on Monday if you are not in S6? Is it a clue??? Please???

AllenLeech62 karma

I was there to meet the HFPA. As they were visiting Downton, in relation to season 5... because Downton season 5 is eligible for next year's Golden Globes.

thepapergryphon28 karma

What music have you been listening to lately?

AllenLeech112 karma

Eh, what have I been listening to lately?

A lot of Van Morrison. And Fleetwood Mac.

TomBransonFan28 karma

If you could pick a woman as a new love interest for Tom, what kind of woman would it be?

AllenLeech89 karma

Someone who has as big a heart as Tom does.

jubeley24 karma

What's it been like playing an Irishman in early 20th century England, as an Irishman filming in early 21st century England? How much or how little have things changed in Anglo-Irish relations on a personal level?

AllenLeech37 karma

It's fascinating, because the difference between the world is so vast.

infinit3j3st22 karma

What's the best role you think you've ever played? On the flip side, are there any roles that you turned down that you wish you hadn't?

I'm a huge fan of Downton, glad to see you here!

AllenLeech66 karma

Ehm - I think I've answered what's my best role I've ever played in the play one, in the West End...and any roles I turned down? I probably should've done Meryl Streep's role in INTO THE WOODS.

_the_lion22 karma

Hey Allen, I recently saw your movie Cowboys & Angels. Great film. Would you say you were the cowboy or the angel?

Also, you were great in The Imitation Game!

AllenLeech31 karma

I was an angel. Vincent was an angel.

hanngoo21 karma

What famous person would you love to play?

AllenLeech48 karma

Ehm - famous person I would love to play... that's a good question. Dammit. Eh, be-be-be-be...Niall Horan, if I was younger!

MrMoopix21 karma

If you could have a cameo in any TV series of the last twenty years, which would you choose?

AllenLeech73 karma


ben564720 karma

I enjoyed you in The Imitation Game. My question to you is what was it like working with Matthew Goode?

AllenLeech45 karma

Great. He's a brilliant actor. And great fun. A dangerous man around a bar.

hanngoo20 karma

I'm traveling to Ireland this spring. What's your favorite spot in Dublin? Rest of the country?

AllenLeech62 karma

If you like Guinness (and you'd better) - Keogh's on South End Street, in Dublin! And then get to Galway, see the west coast of Ireland, it's amazing.

thatcambridgebird19 karma

Hi Allen! I know you're going to get a ton of Downton love in this AMA but I wanted to ask you about In Fear, which was one of my favourite films of Fright Fest 2013 :)

How was your experience of filming something so completely different to what we all knew you for at the time? I, for one, sat in the Empire cinema thinking "I know that guy from somewhere but can't quite remember where" when you came on screen. You did an incredible, creepy, sinister job as Max and it was only in the Q&A afterwards that I realised you were lovely, cuddly Branson from Downton (cut me some slack, we were sitting quite far back...!) It'd be great to see you in similar roles in future - is that sort of dark, nasty underbelly of the human psyche the sort of role you'd like to play more of, because it definitely seemed like you had a lot of fun bringing Max to life.

AllenLeech36 karma

First of all, thank you!

It's one of the great joys of being an actor, that you can go from one character, who is so loved, and has such a strong moral compass, into another character who has no morals at all. And that's the great fun of being an actor, exploring those psyches. And I just played quite a bad character in a film called HUNTER'S PRAYER, which will be out next year.

In a world...

esskayy18 karma

I hope you do stay. You're one of my favorites on the show. What was your favorite line out of all the seasons?

AllenLeech85 karma

My favourite line from the overall show... "Why does every day involve a fight with an American?"

Or the one I loved saying as an actor: "Why don't you just get out of here, you BASTARD!"

hanngoo17 karma

If you got to pick a town/city in Ireland to rename Leechford (or Leecharny, Allenleecheny, etc) in your honor, which place would you pick? :)

AllenLeech34 karma

My mother's tiny hometown of Killmaloch.

tocamix9016 karma


Great to see you doing an AMA. Downton Abbey is like crack to me and your character has always been great. I cried when Sybil died!

Anyways... Was it as difficult as an actor (as it appeared for your character to be) from being in a downstairs type role and transitioning into an upstairs type role?

Who is your best friend on the set?

What's your favorite coffee?

AllenLeech32 karma

Okay, was it difficult as an actor? It was a challenge to play Branson making that transition. And imagining how isolated he would've been. And in the same way, as an actor, I suddenly became isolated from the cast that I got to know very well because they shot in a different location.

That'd be RJC.

I'm a White Americano man.

AstridJMF15 karma

Bonjour Allen!!! Really love DA and your character is one who had evoluted the most!!! Think you'd have been friend with him? what is it to work with Lady Violet? lol Merci!! bisous!!

AllenLeech32 karma

Definitely. I really like Tom Branson.

Although over a couple a drinks, we would've probably had a fight.

And every day's a school day when you work with a master!

blackbeard9715 karma

What happened to isis?

AllenLeech71 karma

The farm.

TomBransonFan15 karma

Allen, I would love to see you on stage in London! Any projects planned there for the future??

AllenLeech21 karma

I don't at the minute. I'd love to, if the right project comes along.

feather_moon14 karma

Hello Allen! Thanks for being here today! I've enjoyed your work both in Downton Abbey and the Imitation Game, so I'll ask a question about both.

  1. If you could play any other character on Downton Abbey, who would it be and why?
  2. What's the best thing that you took away from working on The Imitation Game?

AllenLeech26 karma

The acting experience was probably the best thing I took away. Because being in a room with such incredible talent, like Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Benedict, Kyra, and Matthew Beard... being in a room with them, and the process of creating our characters together was the best thing I could take away.

slurpees13 karma

It's my birthday today, so thank you for being here. You're my favorite cast member from my favorite show :) And my question is... is Downton going to be doing any filming in America, since you and Rose both live there now? Another question: Will Ms. Bunting be back for Tom to fall in love with again?

AllenLeech25 karma

Ehm, first of all, have a hip-hop-happy birthday!

I'd love to see it happen. We could use Paul Giamatti's house. But it's unlikely. And I believe Tom's last sentence to her was "I hope you have a happy life" so probably not...

omgneal13 karma

Hi Allen! Who would you most like to appear as a guest star on Downton?

AllenLeech35 karma


That's a good question. Michelle Pfeiffer.

Grace_NZ13 karma

Hey, Allen! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I’ve been a huge fan of yours since I first saw you in Downton and since then I’ve seen everything you’ve been in that I could get my hands on. I think you’re an amazing actor and I can’t wait to see more of your work this year.

Right, that out of the way, I’ve narrowed my questions to three (if that’s allowed…).

What’s the most challenging role you’ve ever done (or even scene if you want to be specific)?

What’s the status of your short, ‘Quiz Night’? And if it’s been filmed, what was it like directing RJC?

And lastly, what’s something no one’s ever asked you in an interview that you wish they had?

(Also, this isn’t a question, but I have your head)

AllenLeech37 karma

Most challenging role? I did a play in the West End called ECSTASY. And it was possibly the most challenging role I've ever done. It's Ecstasy as in the emotion, not the drug. I played Mick.

Haven't had a chance to make it yet. Mainly cuz RJC is always so busy.

"Why aren't you wearing trousers?"

erikarew11 karma

Hello Allen, thanks so much for answering our questions! Do you notice much of a difference in how you interact with UK fans vs American fans?

AllenLeech25 karma

Not really? All fans of the show are enthusiastic about the characters. They love or hate someone. And that's always great to hear.

petticoatwar11 karma

How did you prepare for the role, was there research involved?

AllenLeech23 karma

Yes, there was a lot of research involved, and it continued throughout the season as the character developed and as time went on.

Kelly_BC10 karma

Is there anyone you've yet to work with that you would really be interested in working with?

AllenLeech20 karma

Hundreds! Hundreds of great actors out there I'd love to work with. J.K. Simmons at the moment is a favourite. I'd like to work with him.

EmmieM1239 karma

Hello Allen,

I love Branson's story as it reminds me of my great grandfather and grandmother's story, as I've heard it told. Where do you pull your inspiration from for your character?

Thanks :) Emily

AllenLeech19 karma

So a lot of research, and then also, you turn to the great writing of Julian Fellowes, and you trust that!

CaptainCuntBasher7 karma

What's your favourite flavour of monster munch?

AllenLeech8 karma


AllenLeech8 karma

Don't mess with a good thing.

samc7115 karma

What's your favorite toilet paper brand?

AllenLeech25 karma

I never buy Own Brand (as in store brand).

My ass is worth more than that.

AllenLeech23 karma

My ass deserves better!

ReadTheBookFirst4 karma

Your characters in both Downton Abbey and The Imitation Game have socialist-leanings. Are you worried about being type-cast as a historical "red"?

AllenLeech6 karma

Ehm - no. Hahahaha! I'm not. They are two roles, amongst (thankfully) many.

echomanagement4 karma

You were perfectly menacing in the film In Fear. Would you like to do more genre entertainment like that?

AllenLeech4 karma

I'd love to make more movies!

EddyCrone3 karma

Which cast were closer, The Goonies or Lord of the Rings?

AllenLeech8 karma

Thankfully, Sean Astin's sitting beside me, I'll ask him now...

ReadTheBookFirst2 karma

Did they make you wear you suit with the top button buttoned, the rest unbuttoned in episode seven (library scene with Lord Grantham) for a reason? Was that the style back then?

AllenLeech5 karma

It's the style of how to wear a coat at that time, in Britain. You only ever buttoned the top button of your jacket, on your suit. Alastair Bruce is our historical advisor, and if you don't like it, take it up with him. Keep in mind: he used to be in the army.

Kkeel2 karma

Hi Allen! HUGE fan here in Wisconsin USA!

I was wondering what your favorite place to film was out of all of the places you have been?

Also, when will you see your son Niall again? I think he misses you.

AllenLeech6 karma


Oh, I loved the garage, where I shot a lot of season 2. Because it was kind of Branson's home. It was his kingdom. And I really liked that about it. Solidified the character, gave him a sense of purpose. To a similar extent, I loved the office in Season 5.