Dominic West: After The Wire and The Hour, time for another world

The TV and stage star gets all supernatural

"Ten years ago, I thought I'd be a massive Hollywood star by now, but all I get is the pick of any roles that Rupert Everett doesn't want!" Dominic West is joking, of course. The actor would be the first to acknowledge that The Wire has been an immense boost to his career.

Since his memorable, accent-perfect performance as the boozy, womanising Baltimore detective Jimmy McNulty, he has starred in a dizzying array of dramas and played such diverse roles as Iago in Othello (opposite his Wire co-star Clarke Peters), Oliver Cromwell in The Devil's Whore, Fred West in Appropriate Adult, Simon Ambrose in Johnny English Reborn, Hector Madden in The Hour and Theron in 300.

"I feel in a good place now. Before The Wire, no one knew who I was. But now I'm not so pigeonholed as a toff. Now people can imagine someone with an accent such as mine playing a blue-collar character – which was not the case before The Wire. Back then, I'd never have got a part like McNulty in the UK."

We are talking on the set of The Awakening, West's latest post-Wire movie, a brooding, eerie period piece about the ghosts that haunt the bereaved. We meet in the actor's trailer on a particularly remote and windswept part of the Scottish Borders. West is wearing a 1920s pinstriped suit that has seen better days.

Directed by Nick Murphy (previously responsible for Occupation, the award-winning TV series about the Iraq War), The Awakening centres on the collision between two lost souls in the aftermath of the Great War.

Dominic West plays Robert Mallory, a severely traumatised First World War veteran who is now working as a history master at a far-flung rural boarding school. When one of his pupils dies after claiming to have seen a ghost, Mallory goes to visit Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), an avowed rationalist and celebrated debunker of spectral hoaxes.

West lives in west London with his wife, Catherine FitzGerald, and their two sons and a daughter. The daughter of Desmond FitzGerald, the 29th Knight of Glin, Catherine was previously married to the Earl of Durham. She and West first dated when West was a student at Trinity College, Dublin two decades ago. They got back together a few years ago and married in 2010.

It was not hard for West to play the spiritualist Mallory, as he believes in ghosts himself. "Do I believe in the supernatural? Oh God, yeah! I think I've seen ghosts. When my mum died, that night I was very conscious of a presence. I looked out of the window, and there was a glowing presence out there. I have very bad eyesight, but I was definitely aware of a luminescence."

Mallory also experiences other after-effects of the war, including severe shellshock, a condition West researched thoroughly. "YouTube has footage of First World War veterans with shellshock – it's the most distressing thing you can possibly see," he says. "What brings it out in Mallory? The mere sight of a ladder. That reminds him of going up ladders in the trenches, putting his head above the parapet and going over the top."

So what is up next for West? Would he fancy a return to a long-running American TV series? "No," he replies, "it's too big a commitment, and I've got too many children. Episodic TV is quite hard work. Now I like doing something intensely for a finite amount of time, then moving on to something completely different."

'The Awakening' is released on 11 November

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before