In recent years, few actors have won over as many critics (and female fans) as Sheffield's very own Dominic West. As hard-drinking cop Jimmy McNulty in modern classic The Wire, he dominated an already impressive ensemble cast, while earlier this year he appeared as a leather skirt-wearing, sword-swinging, plume-headed Roman general in slasher king Neil Marshall's Centurion. We caught up with him to find out how he found the move from inner-city Baltimore to Ancient Rome...
So in Centurion you play a Roman general. Do you like dressing up?
Not really, but I did enjoy that one. For costumes like that, you put them on and there’s no action required really, you feel different, you completely feel the part. I was also riding this Lloyds Bank horse, which was the most amazing horse I’ve ever come across, so before you’ve even opened your mouth, you feel very much the part wearing a plumed helmet and riding a horse like that.
Have you ever kept a costume for a fancy dress party or anything like that?
Well they don’t let you unfortunately. I played Oliver Cromwell a couple of years ago and I managed to keep his sword. It’s a replica of his real one actually, so I have that one hanging over my children…
You got to play a hero, unlike in 300. Is it good for self-esteem, to play the good guy?
It does have an effect on people’s behaviour towards you, but not necessarily if you’re the good guy - if you have a certain status. I was a general in this and when I played Cromwell I remember having a scene where I was crowned Lord Protector and everyone was running up to me asking for my autograph and calling me ‘your highness’ If I walked into Kraft Services or tried to get a coffee they’d clear the way.
Probably because you had a sword, to be fair.
I had a sword and a big plumed helmet.
There’s a lot of facial hair going on in the film. Was there any competition at the most manly beard or stubble? Has Fassbender got it?
He’s got a bit of stubble. It’s a bit girly to be honest. I’m not sure he can grow a beard actually. I think he was trying but he didn’t get too far.
You did very well. I think you and Liam Cunningham were the most – well he always has a beard anyway.
Yeah, well Liam’s got the age you see, he’s got the years on me so he’s able to get a big beard like that.
You looked like you’d bulked up for the film. Is that a lot of gym work or CGI?
I tried to yeah (laughing). You can’t be a movie star or even a successful actor nowadays without having a six pack, so I did go to the gym and try and get some muscles and it didn’t have a great deal of effect unfortunately.
I thought you were pretty well built.
Well that’s good.
You looked better than Fassbender, because he’d been starved and stuff.
Yeah he was still quite hungry, yeah. He was in the gym all the time grooming himself in the mirror.
The first death in the film involves someone being killed by a spear in his nether regions. Have you ever had any downstairs-related accidents?
What kind of bloody question is that?
It was actually the first question we wrote down watching the film.
I did crap myself during a GQ photoshoot once. I accidentally followed through on a fart. I was shooting eight pages of fashion for GQ, it was a low point in my modelling career. In fact, it was the only point in my modelling career. I was wearing white cashmere trousers.
There’s no escaping that then is there?
There wasn’t. It was deeply humiliating. It still haunts me. It still haunts the costume girl as well.
At least she’s got a story to tell now you’re a big famous actor. ‘I had to clear up Dominic West’s sh*t’. That sort of thing.
No she didn’t have to clear it up, I had to clear it up.