Brendan Coyle talks with Chicago Tribune Times!


“Downton Abbey” fans immediately recognize Brendan Coyle as John Bates, the valet and former British Army batman to the Earl of Grantham in Julian Fellowes’ period drama series. Coyle, 52, now stars in the Esquire Network’s series, “Spotless,” where he portrays an East London mob boss named Nelson Clay. Currently splitting his time between the United Kingdom and the United States, the British-born actor explained that he’s so used to traveling for work that he thrives on his nomadic lifestyle. Fans may follow the actor on Twitter at

Q. When did you move away from England?

A. I was 17. I had just seen a production of “Richard III” and “Saturday Night Fever.” The combination of those two made me think I could do this for a living. (Laughs) My dad was a butcher and my first job was in meatpacking and I was training to be a butcher. But I had this growing idea that I wanted to be an actor. My mother said, “Well, you know, you have this aunt in Dublin who’s an actress and director and she has an actor’s studio…” My aunt had an Irish-American business partner and I went and trained there. I toured Ireland as a stage manager and then won a scholarship to study at a drama school in London. I would fly back and forth between Dublin and London and I quite enjoyed it.

Q. Did you experience a culture shock on your first trip to the United States?

A. It wasn’t a culture shock, no. I came to Philadelphia to do a Sean O’Casey play. It was so familiar, because we grew up watching American movies. I remember looking out for yellow cabs. (Laughs) It just seemed really familiar. The food was great and Americans had a positive energy about them. I loved all the skyscrapers. It was everything I expected and more. Every time I’ve been to New York, it has been a joyous experience.

Q. Could you live in America permanently?

A. Yes. Actually, my plan is to move to Los Angeles (this winter) for part of the year and still keep my house back home. Before my TV career took off, I was always touring and filming in foreign places. It’s a very harried, but wonderful, life. It’s kind of the life I’ve always led. It’s very nomadic. I do thrive on it and all the traveling.

Q. When you travel, how adventurous are you with your meals?

A. Very adventurous! I won’t be going to Hong Kong to have the British breakfasts! I eat off street carts and really enjoy food. When my father took us to Chinese restaurants, he would order shark fin soup for us. I have a great love of food.

Q. As a trained butcher, are you picky about the meat you eat at restaurants?

A. (Laughs) I’m not rude about it, but I can be a bit picky. I’m omnivorous and I’m a very healthy eater. So when I do eat red meat, I want it to be good. I only eat grass-fed organic beef because you can really taste the difference.

Q. When you think of an exciting city, what pops up in your mind?

A. New York is one of my favorite cities in the world. It has everything you could want and is very exciting.

Q. What is still on your travel bucket list?

A. In America, I would love to go to Chicago and see Second City and Steppenwolf. I love Los Angeles, but haven’t been to San Francisco. I want to go. I’d like to go to New Mexico as well. I’d love to visit just about any place in South America. I’ve been invited to Australia and New Zealand, but it’s a very long trip, so that’s on the agenda. Bali. India. There’s quite a few. I’ll get there.

Q. What’s the longest plane ride you’ve taken?

A. So far, London to Los Angeles. 12 hours.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. New York, Manchester (England), Edinburgh, Belfast and Los Angeles.

Q. What is your pick for an untapped destination?

A. Hmmm, places that people don’t seem to go to as much as Paris or London? Maybe Berlin. It’s an extraordinary city. With the culture there and the people and food. Budapest is a magnificent city, too.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. That the similarity between human beings is universal.



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