Why Dominic West Initially Turned Down Playing Prince Charles on The Crown

Ahead of season five of The Crown, Dominic West has revealed why he was initially hesitant to play Prince Charles in the Netflix series. Find out his reasoning here.

By Charlotte Walsh Oct 19, 2022 4:19 PMTags
Watch: Elizabeth Debicki Portrays Princess Diana With Sons in The Crown

Dominic West almost didn't make it to the palace. 

The actor, who is portraying King Charles III (then known as Prince Charles) in seasons five and six of The Crown, opened up about how he nearly didn't take the role after showrunner Peter Morgan approached him about it. 

"I said, 'You've got the wrong guy,'" West recalled in an Entertainment Weekly feature published Oct. 18. "'I don't look anything like him.'"

But West had another reason for turning the part down—and it had everything to do with Josh O'Connor, who took on the role of Prince Charles in seasons three and four (and nabbed an Emmy for his portrayal). 

"I'd been watching the show, I'd been a fan from the start," West said. "I was very conscious of Josh's amazing performance, and his amazing success, and thought it was a bit of a hiding to nothing to try to follow that."

The Crown Season 5 Photos

Ultimately, though, The Affair star said yes to the job—in part, he said, because it wouldn't leave him alone. 

"I thought about it for several weeks, and it was one of those things you can't really get out of your head," he said. "[I] realized that you've got to give it a go because you'll regret it if you don't. He's a fascinating man, Charles, and it's a fascinating life, and a fascinating role. I mean, apart from anything else, it's a huge show, and I loved the first four seasons. I realized that I could very happily live with this character for two years."

Getty Images / Netflix

During season five, West will tackle some of Prince Charles' biggest scandals, including his divorce with Princess Diana (a role taken over by Elizabeth Debicki) and "Camillagate," the 1993 controversy where leaked audio revealed Charles telling Queen Consort Camilla that he wanted to "live inside" Camilla's trousers, but with his luck, he'd be reincarnated as her tampon. 

"I remember thinking it was something so sordid and deeply, deeply embarrassing [at the time]," West recalled to EW. "Looking back on it, and having to play it, what you're conscious of is that the blame was not with these two people, two lovers, who were having a private conversation. What's really [clear now] is how invasive and disgusting was the press's attention to it, that they printed it out verbatim and you could call a number and listen to the actual tape."

Season five of The Crown premieres Nov. 9 on Netflix.

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