Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Saul From Fate: The Winx Saga Looks So Familiar

The new fantasy series Fate: The Winx Saga is currently blowing up on Netflix. The six-episode drama is a live-action reimagining of the Italian-American animated kids series Winx Club, which follows fairies who fight evil. The new show, which hails from The Vampire Diaries' Brian Young, is set in a parallel world at a magical school for fairies known as Alfea. It is much darker than the original series and has been updated for more mature audiences, meaning it's now a young adult series featuring complicated relationships and high school-esque drama. There also happens to be a serious supernatural threat from creatures known as Burned Ones.

While many of the younger cast members are relative newcomers, the adults who make up the staff of Alfea, who teach both fairies and non-magical students called "specialists," are much more recognizable. British actor Robert James-Collier portrays Saul Silva, the no-nonsense headmaster of the school's specialists-in-training. He is a father figure to Sky (Danny Griffin), whose late father Andreas, a celebrated war hero, was also Silva's best friend. 

If James-Collier looks familiar to you, there's a good reason for it. Here's where you've seen him before.

Robert James-Collier was on Downton Abbey

James-Collier is best known for portraying the villainous and selfish Thomas Barrow on the British period drama Downton Abbey from 2010 until 2015. Barrow starts out as first footman and hopes to become the valet to the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) before Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), who requires a cane to walk, is given the job. Upset about being passed over, especially for someone he believes to have a disability, Barrow begins plotting with Miss O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran), the first lady's maid of the Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), to get Mr. Bates fired. 

Barrow's poor treatment of Bates is only the beginning, though. Throughout Downton Abbey's run, Barrow is one of the series' primary antagonists, using blackmail to further his career and control others along the way. However, there are instances in which he appears to have a heart after all, especially when it comes to caring for children. One possible explanation for Barrow's bitterness and cold personality is that he is a gay man forced to live his life in secret because homosexuality is a crime in the U.K. during the time period of the show. Although the series treats Barrow's sexuality with compassion, hiding the truth about who he is might have contributed to the character lashing out at others. 

Despite Barrow's behavior and poor attitude, he ultimately climbs the ranks at Downton. In the sixth and final season, after a stint working elsewhere, Barrow becomes the butler of the house after the previous butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), retires. James-Collier later reprised the role in the 2019 Downton Abbey feature film, which wrapped up everyone's storylines.

Robert James-Collier had a two-year run on Coronation Street

Prior to landing the role of Thomas Barrow, which introduced him to U.S. audiences, James-Collier was already well known in the U.K., having appeared on the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. Joining the series in 2006, he portrayed Liam Connor, the brother of Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh). He purchased a share of the Underworld factory with his wealthy brother, Paul (Sean Gallagher). 

During his time on Coronation Street, James-Collier was twice named "Sexiest Male" at the British Soap Awards. In 2008, after two years on the series, James-Collier left the show. At the time, a source told News of the World that his departure was because he had fears of being typecast (via Digital Spy). The character was eventually killed off, reportedly at the actor's request, in a murder mystery storyline in which three of the show's main characters were regarded as suspects. One of those characters was Liam's wife Maria (Samia Longchambon).

Robert James-Collier also appeared in Netflix's horror film The Ritual

In 2017, James-Collier appeared as Hutch in the Netflix horror film The Ritual, which had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, The Ritual follows four friends (played by James-Collier, Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, and Sam Troughton) who embark on a hiking trip in northern Sweden to remember their friend who was killed in a robbery. 

After one of the men becomes injured, the group attempts to cut through the forest for a shorter hike — but soon after they enter the woods, they begin to experience strange phenomena and ultimately find themselves being hunted by a strange creature from Norse mythology known as a jötunn. The creature and its followers, who provide sacrifices in exchange for immortality, pick the men off one by one, and Hutch ultimately doesn't survive the trip. However, one of the men does finally manage to escape the forest, which the creature cannot leave.