Allen Leech (born May 18, 1981) is an Irish stage, television, and film actor. Also known by his birth name of Alan Leech, his career started in his university days and led him to roles in Cowboys & Angels and Man About Dog early on. He became more well known on an international scale after landing roles in several historical dramas and films, including HBO’s Rome, ITV and PBS’ Downton Abbey, and the 2014 film The Imitation Game.

Allen Leech Early Life

Leech was born as Alan Leech in Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland on May 18th, 1981. He is the third of four children of David and Kay Leech. He has an older brother, Greg, an older sister, Ali, and a younger brother, Simon. After being given the part of the Cowardly Lion at age 11 in a school production of The Wizard of Oz at St. Michael’s College, Leech developed a love for the stage. From there, his teenage years revolved around drama and the arts. Through both acting and family support, Leech got through his school years and eventually made his professional debut in a small role in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1998. Leech attended Trinity College, Dublin for his university education and received by a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s Degree in Drama and Theatre Studies. In an exclusive interview with uInterview, Leech said his time at Trinity College paved the way for the rest of his career. “The whole time” at Trinity, he says, “I was working outside at the national theater [Abbey Theatre] and another theatre called the Gate [Theatre]. Out of that, I got a couple of movie roles. I just really plugged away and tried to get some work and I was lucky enough to get a role in HBO’s Rome and out of that I began to get more work in the UK and just kept working away.”

Allen Leech Career

Allen Leech’s professional career started off with some theater roles in Ireland, including The Queen and Peacock, The Morning After Optimism, and Da. Additionally he played small roles in television as well as some shorts. Leech’s breakout performance would come in 2003 in Cowboys and Angels. He plays Vincent Cusack, a gay fashion student who ends up being the protagonist’s (Michael Legge as Shane Butler) unlikely roommate and flips his life upside down. The performance landed Leech a nomination for the Best New Talent award at the 2004 Irish Film and Television Awards.

2004 would continue to see Leech bring out critically acclaimed performances. He starred and narrated in the comedy Man About Dog as Mo Chara. In the film, Mo and his two friends go on a cross-country trip from Belfast down to the Republic of Ireland with a race dog in an attempt to pay debts with a bookie who sold the dog in exchange for rigging a race. The same year, Leech starred in the RTE series Love is the Drug, which followed his character Shane Kirwan and his family through the trials of young adult life and love. His performance would give Leech his second Irish Film and Television Award nomination, this time in the category of Best Actor in Television.

After playing the role of Willy in the Irish television series Legend in 2006, which netted him yet another Irish Film and Television Award nomination (Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Television), Leech grew into an international actor by taking a role in HBO’s historical drama series Rome in 2010. He played the role of Marcus Agrippa, Octavian’s top soldier, chief advisor, and personal friend.

After a period of going back on stage for a run of Everybody Loves Sylvia in Dublin in 2008, as well as some film shorts and web series, Leech gained another high exposure role by playing in two episodes of The Tudors. The show, which was co-produced by the BBC in Britain, CBC in Canada, TV3 in Ireland, and Showtime in the United States, would have Leech play the role of Francis Dereham. Dereham had a sexual affair with Queen Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, prior to when she became queen.

Leech took on his biggest role in 2010 when he played Tom Branson in the hit British drama Downton Abbey.  He told uInterview that he “just went in for an audition” and that “suddenly out of that” he was on the set of Downton Abbey. Leech plays Branson, who was initially a family chauffeur but ends up in a relationship with Lady Sybil. His Irish nationalist and republican political tendencies and working class upbringing put him at odds with the Crawley family throughout the series, with many tough difficult choices having to be made to try and ease the tension. Leech would continue the role regularly until the 5th season in 2014, when Tom decides to immigrate to American and leave the world of Downton Abbey behind. For Leech, the role would be an extremely successful one, as he won over new fans worldwide for his performance. He would also be nominated for his second Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Television award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2013, as well as being a part of the 2013 and 2015 Screen Actors Guild Award winning cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

During his time on Downton Abbey, Leech also took on minor television roles, a production of Ecstasy on London’s West End, and even provided his voice for the video game Assassin’s Creed III. Leech would also take on a supporting role in the 2015 Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game as John Carincross. With Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead role of Alan Turing, Leech would share some memorable scenes with the star as they work to crack the Germans’ encrypted messages in World War II using a machine called “Bombe.”

“It was wonderful, all the scenes that we had with Benedict, and being part of that team was a great privilege and honor. ” Leech shared with uInterview. “(Benedict) is a wonderful actor and a fantastic professional, and a very warm actor as well so when you act opposite of him he’s very generous with his performance. I loved it and I’d love to work with him again.”

Leech had the difficult task of playing Carincross, who doubled as a Soviet spy without Turing knowing for most of the time they worked to crack the German Enigma. “I think in my research, John Carincross talks a lot about what he did in relation to being a double agent for the Soviets,” Leech said. “He had such conviction that what he was doing was the right thing. That’s the only way you can play that. If you try and play the fact he’s a spy or try and give away telltale signs, I think you cheat the audience of the big reveal when it comes. That’s something you have to battle with. He obviously was very good at hiding what he was doing and you have to portray it in that way.”

In 2018. Leech appeared in the film Bohemian Rhapsody, which depicted the life of singer Freddie Mercury. In 2022, he reunited with his Downton Abbey castmates for the movie Downton Abbey: A New Era, which followed the Crawley family on their journey to the South of France.

Allen Leech Personal Life

Leech dated English sports television personality Charlie Webster from 2014 to 2015. Leech married actress Jessica Blair Herman in 2019 and the couple shares two children.

Leech was voted the “Sexiest Irish Male” in 2005 by U Magazine and was also named one of GQ’s “50 Best Dressed British Men” in 2015.

Watch Allen’s full uInterview here:

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