"He's utterly and completely ruthless," Coyle tells PEOPLE of his new role

By Patrick Gomez
Updated September 20, 2015 01:05 PM
Credit: Getty

Brendan Coyle knows you’ll probably always call him Mr. Bates.

“I’m quite alright with that,” the actor, 51, tells PEOPLE of likely being remembered as the “put-upon” valet he has played on Downton Abbey for six seasons. “I’m forever grateful for that experience.”

But with his Downton days behind him (the final season premieres Sunday in the U.K. and will air in the United States on PBS beginning Jan. 3, 2016), Coyle says he is eager to “flex” different acting muscles.

And he’s certainly found a role that qualifies: Esquire Network’s first scripted series Spotless – and PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at Coyle on the show.

“It’s an extraordinary piece about two French brothers living in London and one of them becomes embroiled in the mob – and I’m the mob leader,” says Coyle. “He’s extremely civilized and intelligent but he’s utterly vicious and completely ruthless in a very quiet way, which was irresistible to play.”

Coyle says Spotless is being compared to Shameless, Breaking Bad and Dexter. And while he’s grateful for the comparisons, they also make him a bit nervous about the expectations.

“I was, like, ‘Let’s please not make those kind of comparisons,’ ” he says. “But it’s a very dark and clever show. It’s one of my favorite gigs ever.”

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premieres Nov. 14 on Esquire Network.