Having recently received an honorary doctorate from the University, we caught up with award-winning actor Dominic West to find out what his home city means to him.
What inspired you to be an actor?
My mum was raising seven children in Sheffield in the 1970s and to keep herself sane, she joined a group called Theatre Focus. She played lots of great parts, all at the University’s Drama Studio, with proceeds going to charity. She would draft us kids in when they needed crowd scenes and my sisters and I loved the excitement backstage.
Are we right in saying your acting career actually started in the University’s drama Studio?
Yes, my first speaking role was at the Drama Studio as The Winslow Boy when I was nine. It’s what made me want to be an actor.
What did it mean to you to be given an honorary degree by the University in 2018?
I’m really proud of my honorary degree. My grandparents and great aunt all studied useful subjects like engineering and medicine at the University of Sheffield. It makes me feel worthy of them.
How did it feel to come back to Sheffield to perform in My Fair Lady at the Crucible?
I’ve done three plays at the Crucible and I love it. It is such a fantastic space and the audiences are much sharper than in London. All my mum’s old friends come and see me; some of whom I acted with 40 years ago at the Drama Studio. It’s harder work performing on stage than it is for TV but it is more gratifying. I’m not just saying this but the best stage is the Crucible. The audience is all around you. I loved every second of performing there.
My first speaking role was at the Drama Studio – it’s what made me want to be an actor.”
Where is your favourite place in Sheffield?
The Fat Cat pub near Kelham Island.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
My advice to young actors would be: if you’re in it for the fame, get going on Instagram. If you’re in it for the art, do a play or make a film.
What is coming up for you next?
Next for me is a film of Gypsy Boy, which we’re due to start shooting in late autumn.
Sheffield-born Dominic West is an award-winning television, film and stage actor who rose to fame as Jimmy McNulty in the American drama series The Wire. In 2012 he won the Best Actor BAFTA for his portrayal of serial killer Fred West in the television programme Appropriate Adult and he received Golden Globe nominations for performances in The Affair and The Hour. Most recently, he played Jean Valjean in the BBC adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Miserables. In July 2018, Dominic was awarded an honorary doctorate (Hon LittD) from the University of Sheffield in recognition of his outstanding acting achievements.