OTHELLO reunites two of the actors that helped make The Wire such compelling viewing on both sides of the Atlantic.
But Dominic West, who also spent time growing up in Grindleford before his stage career took off, says it wasn’t always that way. “The writer had to fight for it every season,” reveals the Sheffield actor, who joined the Baltimore-based series in 2002.
“No one was watching it at first, particularly in this country, but you know how good a thing is. We were doing it and reading it and knew how good the material was. As far as we were concerned it was not a failure but it wasn’t a great success for two or three years.”
It went on to become cult viewing and, although already enjoying an established stage and screen career, it lifted old Etonian West’s profile significantly as he led the charge of British actors, such as Hugh Lawrie, claiming big American TV roles.
“We were the first. We set the trend, so really it was me and Idris (Elba, fellow Wire star, now of BBC police show Luther).
“Basically, we’re cheaper. You can get a higher calibre of actor for probably less money to do something... a star in America probably wouldn’t want to live in Baltimore for five years, whereas we’re desperate to do anything.”
West has, of course, been in demand for films, ranging from John Carter Of Mars, The Awakening, Johnny English Reborn, Centurion, From Time to Time and 300 to Hannibal Rising, The Forgotten, Mona Lisa Smile, 28 Days and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Numerous theatre roles include The Country Wife at the Crucible in 2000, but many TV audiences will recognise him from The Devil’s Whore and Nicholas Nickleby as well as clipped news anchor Hector Madden in the BBC’s just recommissioned series The Hour, a world away from The Wire’s Jimmy McNulty.
“The Hector parts are the parts I would normally be given in this country because I went to public school.
“A part like McNulty is not a job I would ever have got, I don’t think, in this country. So the great thing is it gave me a licence to prove that I didn’t have to play that stereotype – and now I’ve proved that I can go back to playing that stereotype in some things.”
Othello runs Thursday until October 15.