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Why Paul From Bohemian Rhapsody Looks So Familiar

Rami Malek's Academy Award-winning performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the 2018 musical biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" was undoubtedly captivating. From the voice to the outfits to the mannerisms, Malek delivered a brilliant interpretation of a larger-than-life rocker who, 30 years after his death, remains a towering figure in music and pop culture history. Only the most stoic viewer resisted the urge to sing along with Malek as he channeled and honored Mercury's genius.

In addition to Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody" included strong performances from Aidan Gillen of "Game of Thrones" fame, Lucy Boynton from "Miss Potter," and Mike "Austin Powers" Myers. The film also starred Irish actor Allen Leech in the role of Paul Prenter, Mercury's manager, lover, and betrayer. Leech should be a familiar face to fans on both sides of the Atlantic; here's where you've seen him before.

Allen Leech's big break was in Rome

Allen Leech began his film and television career in 2000, taking smaller roles in multiple projects. His first substantial role came in HBO's historical drama "Rome," which premiered in 2005 and was co-produced by HBO and the BBC — the first partnership of its kind between the two networks. As many outlets reported at the time, the budget for "Rome" far exceeded anything the subscription-based cable channel had previously produced. Per Den of Geek, HBO budgeted the first season of "Rome" at $100 million, nearly twice the amount the network set aside for "Game of Thrones," making it one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Unfortunately, that budget — plus the logistics of actually filming in Italy, according to star Kevin McKidd — led HBO to cancel the show after only two seasons.

Leech joined the period drama for its second season, playing Marcus Agrippa, an advisor to Gaius Octavian (Max Pirkis, Simon Woods), Julius Caesar's (Ciarán Hinds) heir, and the lover of Octavia (Kerry Condon), Octavian's sister. Despite the wide distance between their respective social ranks, Agrippa and Octavia begin a tumultuous affair.

In The Tudors, Allen Leech angered the wrong king

Allen Leech's apparent affinity for period dramas continued with Showtime's "The Tudors," starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the oft-married King Henry VIII. Premiering in 2007, the series ran for four seasons and collected numerous nominations along the way, including a Golden Globe nod for Best Drama and Best Actor for Meyers (via IMDb).

Leech joined "The Tudors" for a two-episode arc during its fourth and final season, playing Francis Dereham, a former lover of Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant). Dereham's story begins in the season's fourth episode, when he arrives at Henry's court and blackmails Catherine into taking him on as her personal secretary. The King eventually learns of his wife's past indiscretions and has Dereham arrested. When being questioned under torture, Dereham reveals that the Queen is currently engaged in an affair with Thomas Culpeper (Torrance Coombs), the King's courtier. Hypocritically outraged, Henry orders the execution of the Queen, Dereham, and Culpeper.

From rags to riches in Downton Abbey

Allen Leech further continued his foray into period dramas when he joined the cast of "Downton Abbey." For the first two seasons, Leech was credited as a recurring character before he was promoted to the main cast for the rest of the series' six-season run. On the show, Leech played Irishman Tom Branson, a chauffeur for the Crawley family at the series' center. Though an outsider to England's aristocracy, Branson eventually marries and begins a family with Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay), the youngest daughter of the Crawley clan.

After Sybil's death in childbirth, Leech's Branson faces raising his daughter and being accepted by a family for whom he was once a servant. Over time, Branson finds his place within the family and the estate, eventually becoming Downton's land agent, or estate manager as the position is known today. Leech and his fellow cast mates earned three Screen Actors Guild awards for their performances (via IMDb). Leech reprised the role in the first "Downton Abbey" film, and is set to appear in the sequel due out in December 2021.

Allen Leech has had several recent projects

After "Downton Abbey" wrapped in 2015, Alan Leech's next project was 2017's "Bellevue," a Canadian crime drama starring Anna Paquin. On the show, Paquin played single mom Annie Ryder, a small-town police detective investigating the abduction and murder of transgender teen. Leech played Eddie Rowe, Ryder's boyfriend and father to their daughter Daisy. While critics had a positive reaction to the series, which currently holds an 83% favorable score on Rotten Tomatoes, the show was canceled after just one season.

In 2020, Leech appeared on the ABC medical drama "The Good Doctor." In Season 3, Episode 13, "Sex and Death," Leech played Ariel Reznik, the brother of main character Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann).

Most recently, Leech played Brennan O'Brien opposite JoAnna Garcia Swisher's Lindsey Johnson in the Hallmark Channel movie "As Luck Would Have It." The characters initially cross paths while Lindsey is in Ireland hoping to purchase land to build a resort. Leech's Brennan is a member of the council who must approve the sale. The two, of course, fall for each other over the course of the film.