Making the leap

DAPPER: British actor Allen Leech in The Imitation Game. - PHOTOS: AFP, SHAW ORGANISATION

The latest Downton Abbey cast member making it to big screen is Irish actor Allen Leech.

He plays World War II code-breaker John Cairncross, who works with a team of fellow Brit brainiacs in The Imitation Game.

The 33-year-old chats with M about finding fame in the hit period TV series, and his co-stars in The Imitation Game.

How did you approach your character in the movie?

Cairncross was someone who had a very different idea about how to win the war. But he became (Alan) Turing's confidant, and a great friend to him. I also read his autobiography, and that gave me a good foundation.

How was it like working with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley?

Benedict is a phenomenal actor and a wonderful guy. I think people are so crazy about Benedict due to his fantastic performances. He's basically like the new Beatle now, with the attention he gets (laughs). And Keira was like one of the boys. It wasn't till we finished filming that we realised she was a girl!

So there was no diva behaviour from them then?

Nah... the biggest diva was actually Beardy (English actor Matthew Beard, who plays youngest code-breaker Peter Hilton)! He was also our resident geek, as he was the only one among the cast who was good at maths. The rest of us were pretty bad.

Why do you think the film was more popular in the US than the UK?

Americans tend to be very enthusiastic about stuff, whereas Brits are more reserved. We're not really into celebrating ourselves. I've noticed that with Downton Abbey, in the US, they'll cross the road to tell you they love your show. In Britain, they'll cross the road to tell you they don't watch it!

What's next for you?

The cast and I are opening a bar called Beardy's... no, I'm kidding. Right now, I'm doing some promotion for Downton Abbey, which has been commissioned for a sixth season.

Tom Branson has gone through some hard times...

Oh yes. Well, the character (Tudor courtier Francis Dereham) I play on (the 2010 TV series) The Tudors doesn't get treated too nicely either. Oh well, that's what happens when you sleep with the Queen!

- Lisa Twang