In Spotlight: Dominic West’s top movies and TV shows – 5 of his best roles you should watch, from The Wire to Brassic

We round up actor Dominic West’ top five roles ahead of his appearance in The Crown season 5 on Netflix. Discover his best movies and TV shows here.

By Adam Pochin Published: 9 November 2022 - 12.47pm
Keith Bernstein | Netflix Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki The Crown season 5

Dominic West is making headlines with current TV roles in The Crown season 5 and SAS Rogue Heroes, but he established himself on screen early in the 00s, predominantly in the gritty US crime drama The Wire. He plays a central role as Detective Jimmy McNulty in the show and received many plaudits for his accurate Baltimore accent.

A breakthrough role for the British actor, that sets his career up for future successes in blockbuster movies and more hit TV shows across many genres.

Originally from Sheffield, the 53-year-old actor attended Eton College, and then studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 1993. This is also the place where he met his current wife, Catherine Fitzgerald.

West’s off-screen life resembles something from his new role in The CrownThe couple live a near fairytale private life in Catherine’s ancestral home, the picturesque Glin Castle in Ireland, along with their four children (West also has a daughter from a previous relationship).

Whilst The Crown picks up the events of the royal family from the 90’s, West is no stranger to a period drama in his career. Whilst he started out with gritty hard hitting shows, he’s more recently been cast in many period dramas.

Some of his standout roles on the big screen have touched all corners of movies from action to animation, starring in blockbusters such as 300, Finding Dory, Tomb Raider and the new Downtown Abbey: A New Era.

His new role, as the middle-aged version of Prince Charles in the upcoming Netflix hit show The Crown, could well be a new career milestone. As we know, the historic drama is highly popular around the world, and with the passing of the Queen recently, the show’s viewership is tipped to go up even more.

As Prince Charles has succeeded his late mother, there’s inevitably more interest in West’s portrayal of the former Prince of Wales. The charm of the show is that it provides viewers with a look behind the curtain into one of the world’s most iconic families.

Here we’re going to bring you our top 5 favourite roles that Dominic West has undertaken across TV and film during his illustrious career. Discover more here... 

1. 300 - Thenon

In 2006 the blockbuster Spartan story 300 - created by renowned director Zack Snyder - took the film world by storm, due its gory depiction and outstanding visual effects of battle.

Its film noir style of cinemaphotography is what made this epic film so unique, but nonetheless there was a strong cast that propped it up also.

Lead by Gerard Butler who played infamous King Leonidas, it assembled a star-studded supporting cast too. With Game of Thrones Lena Headey and British Hollywood royalty Michael Fassbender to name a couple, and obviously including Dominic West as Theron.

Although Theron was not the main character, his role was central as an antagonist to the plot. West nailed the part and made Theron as loathsome as possible - the sinister politician was treasonous, took bribes and a rapist.

His treacheries finally caught up to him when Headey’s character Queen Gorgo brought an end to his time for his crimes.

This film was one of West’s first big roles in cinema, he showed his ability to flex his acting muscles on the biggest stage. He held his own amongst some major acting talent and his film career took off from there. 

Stream 300 on Sky Cinema and NOW.

2.         The Affair - Noah Solloway

The Affair Noah Solloway

Jumping now to a more recent role for Dominic West on the small screen, The Affair was a US drama, that explored the emotional effects of marital relationships intertwining with one another.

The series won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series in 2015, and West played a huge part in that success.

West plays Noah Solloway, a struggling writer, and he features throughout all five seasons. Noah starts the show as a happily married man with children, but before long this changes as there is a growing resentment brewing within Noah towards his father-in-law.

With growing family pressures and financial struggles, Noah seeks a distraction from it all. This is where we are introduced to his encounters with Ruth Wilson’s character Alison Bailey - she is a waitress but there’s a little more than meets the eye with Alison. Noah is drawn in by the excitement and tantalizing nature of this fling.

West’s character is constantly shown in the worst light throughout the show, which he portrays perfectly in each episode. As we’ve already mentioned, he plays the bad guy extremely well, and in this show he’s able to showcase narcissism and dark qualities.

He clearly doesn’t mind choosing roles which might bring a lot of distaste towards his characters from the viewers, but people cannot argue with his craft in bringing to life these ‘monsters’.

Stream The Affair Seasons 1-5 on Sky Atlantic and NOW.

3. The Wire - Jimmy McNulty

The Wire Jimmy McNulty

Possibly Dominic West’s greatest role but certainly his breakthrough, West features in the critically acclaimed and highly regarded award-winning TV Show The Wire.

West plays the role of Jimmy McNulty, a Baltimore police detective aiming to bring down the local drug gangs.

McNulty’s personal life is a mess, he sleeps on a mattress on a floor in his apartment and he’s separated from his wife. Jimmy drinks a lot to take the edge off his days in the police force but also to numb the reality of his sloppy life.

What he lacks domestically, he makes up for in his profession - West can tap into a workaholic and driven character within the Baltimore Police department perfectly. His eagerness for success against the odds of bringing down the drug gangs of Baltimore and cleaning up the streets has you rooting for him throughout.

McNulty’s character traits are what the viewer also enjoys and are drawn to. He’s charming and cheeky and has great ability at getting in hot water but then escaping un-scolded. 

Most of all, Jimmy can maintain a strong moral compass in a sector rife with scandal and corruption. His bravery to push the boundaries of his remit make for great television.

West has a unique ability and talent for provoking his seniors in the role to get the resources he needs – that’s how he can make breakthroughs in the war against the drug pushers and their notorious lords.

A career defining role for Dominic West which took television by storm and propelled his career to new heights for his stellar performance as the downbeat but lovable Jimmy McNulty.

Stream The Wire Seasons 1-5 on Sky Atlantic and NOW.

4. Les Misérables - Jean Valjean

In 2019, the famous Les Misérables was adapted for television on BBC One, with Dominic West playing the central character role of Jean Valjean - played previously by Hugh Jackman.

Valjean is a focal point for the show and West leans into his many years of experience of acting to bring to life the character for the small screen. As we’ve said, West has an incredible knack for portraying the villain and relishing in sinister traits, but in this series he’s able to show the viewer that he can be a protagonist too.

West explores and excels in bringing the themes of redemption, compassion and generosity from Victor Hugo’s novel onto our televisions. But Jean Valjean must go on a character defining voyage first before he becomes so humble, which the show expertly follows episode to episode.

His hard work and struggle against adversity is something which most people can relate to, and he wins over the hearts of the viewers. Valjean is moulded by these unfortunate circumstances; West does an excellent job of showing the ability to change.

He is the hero of the story, and Dominic West has the acting ability to show the process of the demands it takes to be a good man amongst so much injustice and torment. A testament to West’s acting range and abilities, Jean Valjean is a character portrayal of the highest calibre from the British actor.

A more recent role for West, which you can see his many years of experience all getting rolled up into this story where he is able to show the many sides to this character throughout the show.

Stream Les Misérables on BBC iPlayer.

5. Brassic - Dr Chris Cox

Brassic Dr. Cox

Dominic West has a solid supporting role in the Sky Original comedy series Brassic, set in a rural village of northern England. West plays the local GP Dr. Chris Cox, but not your average man of medicine.

In a show filled featuring plenty of British stars and upcoming talent such as Joe Gilgun and Michelle Keegan, West is the jewel in the crown for the show. Not only due to his Hollywood status, but mostly for what he brings to the role and how this character impacts the show.

Dr. Cox and Gilgun's character Vinnie have developed a bromance over their regular appointments/drug dealings. Dr. Cox’s office is a safe space for Vinnie to vent and air his demons away from his pack, this becomes a two-way street of confidence where Cox hilariously and honestly admits his own vices - mostly sex-related.

Yet again we see a different style of acting on display from West - he’s showing his variety of acting skills away from his usual dramatic and tense style. The viewer is treated to his humorous side which isn’t taking itself seriously.

His hysterical and troublesome sexual predicaments make for side-splitting television. Whilst he’s moved away from his serious style in this role, he’s able to bring a lot of the seediness to the character which he’s developed over the many years of playing the unlovable sleaze in movie and TV. 

Stream Brassic Seasons 1-4 on Sky Atlantic and NOW.

Best of the rest: Dominic West’s movies and TV shows -

·       Downtown Abbey: A New Era – Guy Dexter (2022)

·       SAS Rogue Heroes – Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Wrangel Clarke (2022)

·       The Pursuit of Love – Uncle Matthew (2021)

·       Stateless – Gordon Masters (2020)

·       Tomb Raider – Richard Croft (2018)

·       Finding Dory – Rudder (2016)

·       Money Monster – Walt Camby (2016)

·       Pride – Jonathon (2014)

·       The Hour – Hector Madden (2011)

·       Arthur Christmas – Lead Elf (2011)

·       Johnny English Reborn – Ambrose (2011)

·       Chicago – Fred Casely  (2002)