The Colorful Things Dominic West Has Said About Cheating and Affairs

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Originally appeared on E! Online

Dominic West has fielded more questions than most actors on the subject of infidelity.

But that's because even before the 54-year-old portrayed one of the most infamous unfaithful husbands of all time on The Crown, he played the adulterous Noah Solloway on The Affair, which ran for five seasons and interviewers couldn't help but ask what he thought about, well... affairs!

And what he had to say was pretty fascinating, especially in hindsight after the English actor was spotted kissing his The Pursuit of Love costar Lily James at lunch in Rome in October 2020, a tender scene that unromantically butted up against the fact that West had been married to Catherine FitzGerald since 2010.

Not that there couldn't have been a plethora of innocent explanations, starting with the fact that the actors had known each other for almost a decade, having shared a Sheffield stage as Iago and Desdemona in a 2011 production of Shakespeare's Othello.

They also shared a manger, Angharad Wood, and he was at their table when this seemingly amorous interaction occurred.

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And, incidentally, West was playing James' father in The Pursuit of Love, a miniseries based on the Nancy Mitford novel of the same name. ("Yes, it hurts," West, who's 20 years James' senior, once said about being cast as Lara Croft's father in the 2018 Tomb Raider remake with Alicia Vikander. "It does and anyone who says it doesn't is lying.")

Yet the photos looked like what they looked like, which was two people really enjoying each other's company.

Dominic West, Catherine FitzGerald
Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett/Getty Images

But days later West was back home in the Cotswalds with FitzGerald, the mother of four of his five kids, and a handwritten note posted to their gates read, "Our marriage is strong and we're very much still together. Thank you." Signed, "Catherine & Dominic."

They even went outside and kissed for the cameras.

As explosive as the scandal felt at the time, not least because of the pandemic-slowed pop culture news cycle (The Pursuit of Love was one of the first big productions in the U.K. to get rolling again as lockdown rules eased), it died down pretty quickly and West and FitzGerald—who will celebrate 14 years of marriage in June—remain very much still together.

But West, who was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for his take on 1990s-era Prince Charles on The Crown, recently admitted that it was an "obviously horrible" moment in time, particularly for his wife.

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However, he told the Sunday Times, "We do joke about it sometimes. Because whenever we went out together, the papers would always say we were 'putting on a show of unity.' Even if we'd just been rowing about parking the car or whatever, even if that couldn't be further from the truth. And so when we go out we do sort of say, 'Shall we go and have a show of unity up in London?'"

Still, West added, "It was an absurd situation" that was "deeply stressful for my wife and my kids."

Dominic West, Catherine FitzGerald, family, The Crown season 5 premiere
Joe Maher/Getty Images

At least they can all laugh about it now. But West, also known for playing the not particularly monogamous Jimmy McNulty on The Wire, had plenty of occasions to pontificate and crack wise about cheating while answering for the decisions his character was making.

It was hard to tell at times in retrospect whether he was joking or giving his honest opinion, but here's what he had to say:

But What Do You Really Think?

<p>But What Do You&nbsp;<em>Really</em> Think?</p>

<p>West and <strong>Catherine FitzGerald</strong>, a landscape designer who hails from Irish aristocracy, first met when they were students at Trinity College in Dublin, but after dating in school, she moved on and married the 7th Earl of Durham in 1995. They divorced in 2002 and she rekindled the flame with West a few years later, getting engaged in 2007. Already parents to daughter <strong>Dora</strong> and son <strong>Senan</strong>, they married on June 26, 2010, at Castle Glin in County Limerick, her family's ancestral home. </p>

<p>"I fell in love with her when I was 21 and she fell in love with me about eight months ago, when she realized all other options had been exhausted and she had four kids," West previously joked to the <em>Standard</em>. (Their brood soon grew to include son <strong>Francis</strong> and daughter <strong>Christabel</strong>.)</p>

"I fell in love with her when I was 21 and she fell in love with me about eight months ago, when she realized all other options had been exhausted and she had four kids," West previously joked to the Standard. (Their brood soon grew to include son Francis and daughter Christabel.)

<p>He first had a daughter, <strong>Martha</strong>, in 1998 with his then-girlfriend <strong>Polly Astor</strong>, whom, he has acknowledged, he treated rather shabbily while he was off in the U.S. making <em>The Wire</em>.</p> <p>"That got a lot of things out of my system—hopefully," he told the <em>Standard</em>. "And now I just act it. There are a lot of sex scenes in <em>The Affair</em>. If Catherine was in something like that I would not be happy. But she's OK with it. She's cool."</p>

<p>"Oh, f--k no!" he exclaimed when asked if he and his wife ever watched the Showtime series, which ended in 2019, together. "She saw a bit of it on the plane once, and I saw a bit of it on the plane. Neither of us watches it. Can't bear to—although apparently it's quite good." (<strong>Ruth Wilson</strong>, his co-star and the initial object of Noah's extramarital affections, won a Golden Globe—"Your arse is something of great beauty," she quipped to West in her speech—as did <strong>Maura Tierney</strong>, who played Noah's blindsided wife.)</p>

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Talking to the Standard's ES Magazine;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Talking to the Standard's <em>ES</em> Magazine</a> in 2017, he was asked if arousal ever occurs on set shooting those intimate scenes, and he amiably replied, "Of course."</p> <p>But, he continued, "It's tied down, so to speak. Also I think actresses don't mind when it happens, in fact they quite like it. Everyone likes to be thought of as attractive."And he included himself in that lot.</p> <p>West said he was quite flattered by the renewed attention he was getting from <em>The Affair</em>, calling it "wonderful." He added, "It's <em>The Affair</em> of course, I won't take the credit. The breadth of people who are into it is staggering. We were filming in New York recently and this bunch of doddery 70-year-olds streamed past us and one of them shouted, 'Keep it up!' It's amazing what the older generation get up to in those nursing homes nowadays with Viagra and a bit of dirty telly. If I'm relieving the boredom, I'm glad I can help out."</p>

<p>Interestingly, since it was pointed out that West wasn't wearing a wedding ring in those photos with <strong>Lily James</strong>, he previously told <em>ES</em> when complimented on his Tiffany watch, that he generally wasn't much of one for accessories. "I don't even like wearing my wedding ring to be honest with you," he said. "In fact I think I might have lost it—but this is really rather beautiful."</p>

<p>West also previously shared some more sober thoughts on the subject and why <em>The Affair </em>was connecting with viewers. (And, in hindsight, to why photos that suggest someone is cheating can be so explosive.)</p> <p>"It's such an emotive issue, affairs and adultery," he <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told the Evening Standard in 2015;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">told the <em>Evening Standard</em> in 2015</a>. "People find it instantly interesting when people talk about adultery and affairs. Part of it is a lot of people feel very strongly how wrong it is and what a betrayal it is and how it's probably the worst thing that happens to some people.</p> <p>"And then," he continued, "I think a lot of other people just wish that they'd done it. Or they're jealous or, I don't know, thinking if only they could get out of that bloody loveless marriage."</p>

<p>He loved playing Noah, a "total d--k," West said, because he's such a fascinating character, a husband and father who blows past what's expected of him to fulfill his own desires and tries to rationalize that he's doing the right thing.</p> <p>"You're a man, you're supposed to look after your wife and family. You're not supposed to abandon them," West explained. "And of course, if you're divorcing someone you think their behavior is unacceptable and they do things that are, you know, appalling, which that person doesn't perceive at all."</p> <p>He added, "So that's what's really fun because you are basically playing two different characters or several different characters. I don't care what a d--k he is—I just put it all in perspective."</p>

<p>He took the job in part because it filmed in the summer, allowing him to bring his whole family to America with him.</p> <p>"It's the most important factor in my decision about work," he told <em>The Australian</em> in 2016. "This year I'll do <em>The Affair</em> and my family will come out for the summer and autumn half-term, then I'll be at home for the rest of the year. It's all very carefully thought out because they are at an age now where I don't want to miss any of it. It's the most important thing in my life at the moment."</p> <p>At the same time, he's fine if his family doesn't actually watch any of it afterward.</p>

<p>"It's embarrassing," he <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told Ireland's Independent;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">told Ireland's <em>Independent</em></a> in early 2016 of his role. "I don't have parents, but I've got five sisters and a brother and they haven't watched it. My sisters were saying, 'Yes, we heard it's good. We heard you do certain things there and we decided not to watch it.' </p> <p>"Maybe they have watched a few but my wife wisely hasn't," he added. "I mean, it's not something I'd like to watch her doing."</p>

<p>The actor has also praised his familly, calling FitzGerald a "wonderful woman" from an "amazing family," his late father-in-law, <strong>Desmond FitzGerald</strong>, having been the 29th Knight of Glin.</p> <p>"They have an amazing history and that's something I treasure very much," West said. "I find it very romantic and appealing and I hope to do whatever I can to continue that history."</p>

<p>By his own account, he was madly in love with his wife —and had been for years and years.</p> <p>"I fell in love with my wife when I was at university and I managed to persuade her to fall in love with me for about three months but then she ran away and married someone else," he <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told British Vogue;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">told<em> British Vogue</em></a> with a self-deprecating laugh in 2015. "But I've been in love with her since then and still am, even more so. What doing <em>The Affair </em>highlights for me is that I think I have a really good marriage, mainly because my wife is so cool and I adore her and we have all these kids."</p> <p>"The mistake people might make, if I may be so bold, is expecting so much of a marriage and hoping that there can be perfection," he continued, "I think, really, what marriage is is two people helping each other to live the best lives they can. And that's what happened with me and my missus. That's why it works. She doesn't get jealous, either. If she were doing the scenes I'm doing in <em>The Affair</em>, I would hate it."</p>

(Originally published Oct. 13, 2020, at 3 p.m. PT)