Downton Abbey star Rob James-Collier has spoken out about his character’s gay storyline in the six-season series and now, film, Downton Abbey.

“He’s been through the mill so many times,” James-Collier, who has portrayed Thomas Barrow, told EW. “For him to finally have a culmination — it was a lovely moment.”

James-Collier is referring to a romantic scene Barrow stars in during the new movie. The scene, showing a kiss that Barrow shares with a male member of the royal household. “It’s such a beautiful, heartwarming scene,” he remarks. “Hopefully they’ll meet again, but the question is left wanting. I loved the fact that he got a happy ending.”

More than that moment of romance, though, Downton Abbey finally gives portrays the secret gay subculture of 1920s England. “He discovers there’s a whole world where they can dance together, kiss, talk freely, and be themselves,” James-Collier says of his character’s journey. “That changed the narrative for Thomas. He hadn’t been privy to that world before and the fact that he finds it through a moment of serendipity, and we explore his response to that was lovely to play.”

Downton Abbey is in theaters now.

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