He played aspiring boxer Bonnie on series four and five of Cillian Murphy’s hit drama series, the son of assassin Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen).
Many fans were shocked when the character was written out so definitively in the fifth series, but what they didn’t know is that it was in response to Rowan being cast in another high profile role.
“In the timeframe between series four and series five, I landed Noughts and Crosses, so it was a case of what do you do? Do you take this? And in a way, I’m a young guy and it’s a lead role. It was horrible to have to do something like that, but there was no question really what I would do, and it was this,” he told RadioTimes.com.
Leaving the show behind wasn’t easy, but Rowan was pleased to go out on a dramatic note that provided a proper ending to his character’s journey.
He added: “I thank that team from the bottom of my heart for not recasting the character or not just leaving him out, they actually said let’s give him an ending. So, I actually filmed that in-between.
“I did block one of Noughts and Crosses, then in the Christmas period I was only on it [Peaky Blinders] for a day, and then I came back to South Africa. I’m just grateful I had an ending.”
The character of Bonnie had particular relevance to Rowan, who used to be an amateur boxer himself until injury took him out of the sport.
He takes on the role of Callum McGregor in BBC One’s new Malorie Blackman adaptation, a disadvantaged ‘nought’ who falls in love with a privileged ‘cross’ girl.
Noughts and Crosses airs on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday 5th March