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Ed Speleers: 'I've got every right to be angry in Beowulf – I should have been king!' (VIDEO)

Former Downton Abbey star Ed Speleers says his character in ITV's epic drama Beowulf (opens in new tab) is full of angst and has every right to be, because he should have been Thane (king).

Ed told What's on TV that Slean is the most complex character he's ever played in the 12-part drama set in Britain's mythic past. His father (William Hurt) denies him his birthright and instead passes on the the crown to his mother (Joanne Whalley).

Ed, who starred as footman Jimmy Kent in Downton, said Slean was the most complex character he's ever played.

"Good characters should have light and dark anyway," he said. "I don't think it's a clear-cut case of him being the bad guy. Yes, he's angsty, but he's got a lot to be angry about. His dad, who basically rejected him most of his life, has now just died and he should have made [Slean] king, should have made me Thane as my birthright. But he didn't and he gave it to my mother, there's never been a female Thane before, the one person in my family who I'm actually close to. He's messing with my head, he's messing with the one strong relationship I've got with my family."

Ed continued: "Then you factor in Beowulf, who is one of the main reasons me and my father had such problems. Beowulf could do no wrong in my father's eyes. This guy came in as a kid and took my father's affections and he's still doing it once my father's dead, so he's got every right to be angry."

Watch the interview with Beowulf star Ed Speleers, above. "]

Beowulf continues on ITV on Sunday evenings.

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.