The Wire and The Hour star on leaving his womanising ways behind
D ominic West likes women Likes them a lot. The Britishborn son of Irish Catholics, he gave up his for them because of ‘all those rules about sex’. Then he gave up on a relationship with aristocrat Polly Astor, the mother of his eldest daughter, Martha, because... well, let’s just say he broke a rule too far. ‘It was terrible because it was all me. I wanted out,’ says Dominic, who was 28 when Polly became pregnant with Martha. ‘I hurt Polly very badly, but at the time I wasn’t ready to settle down. I was two years out of drama school and things were going really well. I was doing films all over the place and didn’t want to be tied down. Then I got The Wire.’
The Wire, of course, was the US drama series that made Dominic, now 43, very, very famous as the disreputable Pogues-loving IrishAmerican Baltimore cop Jimmy McNulty. ‘I remember going to a club in the States with all the cast and they were staring at me in astonishment. They were saying, “You’re the lead actor. You should be swaggering with your posse. You get the drinks bought and the girls brought. You’ve got to be the man.” I said, “I don’t know how to be the man!”’ But he soon caught on. ‘Martha was about three when Polly and I split up, and The Wire was very much a part of it. Women were extremely important to me and I wanted to be selfish for a bit longer. I wanted to play the field, I suppose.’
Today, Martha is 13 years old and Dominic is married to Catherine FitzGerald, daughter of Desmond, the late Knight of Glin, Co. Limerick. Catherine was the girl he fell in love with at Trinity College Dublin but who dumped him (‘She probably thought I was a bit of an idiot,’ he says) and married someone else. When that marriage ended in 2002, they rekindled their love affair and Dominic proposed in 2007. Their three children, Dora, now six, Senan, four, and three-year- old Francis, were christened the day after their wedding in Limerick in 2010 and Dominic now takes them to church on a Sunday to give his wife, he says, ‘two hours off’. But I suspect it’s more to do with growing up.
Two years ago his mother, Moya, died at home in Sheffield after a long battle with leukaemia. His father, George, had passed away in a hospital in Ireland five years earlier after suffering a stroke. ‘There’s a lot of my childhood and my relationship with my parents in the church, so it’s a link to them now,’ he says. ‘I found it hard to be a Catholic in terms of all those rules about sex, but now I’ve got kids I understand the tradition I was brought up in was so important to my family for generations, and I want my children to have something of that.’
Dominic was the sixth of seven children, five of them sisters, in this deeply Catholic family. His father made a small fortune from making plastic bus shelters in Sheffield, so sent him to Eton where he was terribly homesick for the first year. ‘I had an amazing four years there,’ he says. ‘But homesickness was