Dominic West: Charles has ‘these big sausage fingers & he’s always fiddling with them’

While I didn’t think much of Dominic West being cast as then-Prince Charles in The Crown, I have to admit… he’s pretty good in the role. West is too good-looking to play Charles, but that was true of Josh O’Connor as well. But I enjoy seeing how they try to frump up West’s looks, including giving him Charles’s ridiculous hairstyle with a deep side-part. West has also channeled Charles’s pompousness and inherent self-satisfaction. All in all, I’m pretty okay with West’s portrayal. I enjoy it even more because West insists that he actually likes Charles and the royals, all while he’s been hilariously shady towards them. Speaking of, West’s Town & Country cover interview is a masterpiece. Some highlights:

He almost didn’t take the role: “I didn’t [want it],” saying he was “very apprehensive…. I’m a big fan of Prince Charles, as he was. I didn’t want to be doing anything to upset his mission…[but] That’s what you live for as an actor, great parts with great writing and on a great show.”

What he has in common with Charles: “I have quite short legs and quite a big head and I’ve got a bit of a stoop, like him,” West says. The Crown’s team of experts helped him get further into character, with a voice coach telling him, “You mustn’t open your mouth, talk through clenched teeth the whole time.” West studied Charles’s body language, too, making note of how he tends to keep himself rather contained, elbows by his side. Throw in some pointing and fidgeting—“He’s got these big sausage fingers, and he’s always fiddling with them.”

Charles & his mummy: “This is a man, in the prime of his life, who cannot and has not been able to fulfill his destiny. This is a man who, in his late forties, still has to obey his mother, not just as his mother but as his sovereign, queen, his boss.”

West is on Team Charles. “The trouble was Diana was such a superstar. She’s got such star quality that he doesn’t have. None of the royals does, and good, thank God, because their job is quite boring. We’re finding it now with our prime ministers, and you with your presidents: It’s exhausting having a high-octane leader who’s very media savvy. We long for the rather boring, sensible ones who are functionaries who get on with the job.”

He tries to capture Charles’s rage at scene-stealer Diana: “There can only be one star in the relationship,” West says. Our conversation has moved on to Camilla, and what the new queen consort brings to her husband. “I think she’s happy to be—what’s the word?—in the background, reflecting, just trying to make him look good. There’s a generosity and a humility about that, which I think is what we wanted to put across.”

What he likes about King Charles: “I love that since he became king, in contrast to his mother, he is totally heart-on-his-sleeve. I mean, that thing he did about Liz Truss?” The actor slips back into his pitch-perfect Charles to mutter the king’s remark to the short-lived prime minister: “Back again, Dear, oh dear.” Then he adds, through clenched teeth for good measure, a “‘Bloody pen! F–king pen!’ The queen of 70 years was never that emotive, and he’s doing it every day. I think people love it.”

People have a right to dramatize, critique & criticize their unelected leaders: “Who wears the crown has been a legitimate subject for dramatization since well before Shakespeare,” he says. The monarch is not a private individual but a very public head of state. “Inquiry and scrutiny” of the sovereign and the powerful institution around the throne is entirely fair game, as he sees it. “It makes anything stronger to be tested. We’re bowing to these people—who are they? What are they doing? Do they deserve our reverence? Frankly, the monarchy’s been through wars. If we can’t get through a TV show, then it’s not on very firm foundations.”

[From Town & Country]

Just that: “If we can’t get through a TV show, then it’s not on very firm foundations.” That’s exactly what Charles has telegraphed for years too, that his reign and the entire House of Windsor will be brought down by ten hours of prestige historical drama. It’s not The Crown which makes the Windsors look weak, it’s their reaction to a moderately critical show about their actual history. Anyway, I adore the way Dominic West insists that he loves the royals and he’s completely on Charles’s side and then he spends the interview talking about Charles’s sausage fingers and how Charles was full of rage about being upstaged by his glamorous wife. *chef’s kiss*

Cover courtesy of T&C, additional photos courtesy of Netflix/The Crown.

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