Dominic West Details How Wife Catherine FitzGerald Was Affected by Lily James Drama

Three and a half years after Dominic West was photographed with Lily James in Rome, The Crown actor reflected on how he and his wife Catherine FitzGerald navigated the media attention.

By Elyse Dupre Apr 22, 2024 12:57 PMTags
Watch: Dominic West Reveals How His Wife Was Affected by Lily James Rumors

Dominic West is addressing those pictures of him and Lily James

Three and a half years after paparazzi photos of the duo in Rome raised eyebrows, The Crown star reflected on how he and his wife Catherine FitzGerald weathered the media storm. 

"I hesitate to speak on my wife's behalf because it was obviously horrible, particularly for her," Dominic told The Sunday Times in an interview published April 21. "But 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,'" he continued. "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?'" 

In fact Dominic—who has been married to Catherine since 2010 and has four children with her as well as a daughter from his previous relationship with Polly Astor—noted the media frenzy took a toll on the whole family. 

Fact vs. Fiction: The Crown Season 6

"It was an absurd situation," The Wire actor recalled. "It was deeply stressful for my wife and my kids, but there were lighter moments. That was the best that came out of it, really."

Karwai Tang/WireImage, David Fisher/Shutterstock

Dominic also suggested that dealing with all the media attention influenced his portrayal of King Charles III on The Crown—with the Netflix drama exploring topics like his marriage to and divorce from Princess Diana, her death in 1997 and his relationship with Queen Camilla.

"I'd had a very acute understanding of what it's like to feel the horror of your name or your photo in the newspapers," the 54-year-old told The Sunday Times. "There is that dreadful, freezing moment when something is revealed about you. I think anyone can understand how that feels. But I'd been through it, and it must have informed how I approached it. That gut feeling of horror isn't something you get inured to."

Dominic and Lily—who starred in The Pursuit of Love—were photographed riding a scooter and getting close as they dined and took in the sights together in Rome in October 2020, per pictures obtained by The Daily Mail

After the images spread online, Dominic and Catherine proved they were standing together by kissing in front of reporters and sharing a note that read, "Our marriage is strong and we're very much still together."

As for Lily, she's mostly stayed tight-lipped on the subject.

"Ach, I'm not really willing to talk about that," the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again actress told The Guardian in 2021. "There is a lot to say, but not now, I'm afraid."

E! News has reached out to Lily's rep for comment but has yet to hear back.

Keep reading to revisit what Dominic has said about his personal life and the attention surrounding it.

But What Do You Really Think?

"I mean, I think women should be more indulgent of affairs," Dominic West told the Evening Standard in March 2016. "I really do. It's daft to kick someone out over a fling. Isn't it? Everyone should turn a blind eye to men's behavior between the ages of 40 and 50. Let it all blow over...Milk and sugar?"

To be fair, the tea-drinking interviewer noted that she couldn't be sure if he was being facetious or not, as he easily could have been poking fun at his tortured but remarkably self-centered, self-righteous character on the The Affair. And perhaps at his younger self. (He did not care to clarify when The Australian broached the topic some months later.)  

West and Catherine FitzGerald, 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 Dora and son Senan, they married on June 26, 2010, at Castle Glin in County Limerick, her family's ancestral home. 

"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.)

He first had a daughter, Martha, in 1998 with his then-girlfriend Polly Astor, whom, he has acknowledged, he treated rather shabbily while he was off in the U.S. making The Wire.

"That got a lot of things out of my system—hopefully," he told the Standard. "And now I just act it. There are a lot of sex scenes in The Affair. If Catherine was in something like that I would not be happy. But she's OK with it. She's cool."

"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." (Ruth Wilson, 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 Maura Tierney, who played Noah's blindsided wife.)

Talking to the Standard's ES Magazine in 2017, he was asked if arousal ever occurs on set shooting those intimate scenes, and he amiably replied, "Of course."

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.

West said he was quite flattered by the renewed attention he was getting from The Affair, calling it "wonderful." He added, "It's The Affair 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."

Interestingly, since it was pointed out that West wasn't wearing a wedding ring in those photos with Lily James, he previously told ES 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."

West also previously shared some more sober thoughts on the subject and why The Affair was connecting with viewers. (And, in hindsight, to why photos that suggest someone is cheating can be so explosive.)

"It's such an emotive issue, affairs and adultery," he told the Evening Standard in 2015. "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.

"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."

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.

"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."

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."

He took the job in part because it filmed in the summer, allowing him to bring his whole family to America with him.

"It's the most important factor in my decision about work," he told The Australian in 2016. "This year I'll do The Affair 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."

At the same time, he's fine if his family doesn't actually watch any of it afterward.

"It's embarrassing," he told Ireland's Independent 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.' 

"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."

The actor has also praised his familly, calling FitzGerald a "wonderful woman" from an "amazing family," his late father-in-law, Desmond FitzGerald, having been the 29th Knight of Glin.

"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."

By his own account, he was madly in love with his wife —and had been for years and years.

"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 told British Vogue 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 The Affair 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."

"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 The Affair, I would hate it."

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