DO­MINIC WEST

The Wire and The Hour star on leav­ing his wom­an­is­ing ways be­hind

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

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

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