Playing Fred West gave me nightmares, admits Wire star Dominic West
Dominic West has disclosed that he suffered from nightmares while playing the role of the serial killer Fred West for a forthcoming television drama
The actor, best known for his appearance as a Baltimore detective in The Wire, defended his decision to star in Appropriate Adult, which will be screened on ITV1 this week.
Fred and Rosemary West tortured, raped and murdered 12 young women and girls at their home in Gloucester and buried many of the victims under the property or in the garden.
West committed suicide in 1995 before he could be tried. Rose West was later convicted of murdering 10 women, including her own daughter.
The ITV1 drama focuses on the relationship between Fred West and Janet Leach, a trainee social worker, assigned to sit in on his police interviews as an “appropriate adult”.
Anne Marie Davis, one of Fred West’s daughters, has said she felt “physically sick” when she heard of plans for the programme and claimed it would cause further distress to the victims’ families.
However, the 41-year-old actor, who went to Trinity College and who married in Ireland in 2009, said: “It’s important these stories are told. There are probably serial killers out there that we’ve never heard of. Fred West was around for 25 years doing his killing. It’s important to discuss these things, as long as one doesn’t do it in a way that glorifies them.”
He said of playing the role: “I was having pretty horrible dreams during the shoot where I’m perched on a wall and Fred West is trying to grab me and pull me down. I only did it for three weeks and it was a pretty intense, very dark three weeks. It was grim.”
Mae, another of Fred West’s daughters, is supportive of the project and said the actor bore an uncanny screen resemblance to her father.
“If Dominic West was to walk into a room with my brother and sisters in, playing the role of Fred West, I’m sure most – if not all of them – would freeze for a moment,” she told the Radio Times. “Although Dominic’s obviously a lot taller than he was, some of his mannerisms – like the way he walked, the way he hunched his shoulders, the way he rolled his cigarettes – were eerily familiar.”
In previous interviews the actor has admitted he understood the “dark sexual fantasies” of West. He said he could identify with aspects of the rapist’s “attitudes to sex, sexual fantasies, dark stuff”.
“This is very, very dangerous territory, but necessarily one has something in common,” he said.
So close did he feel to the character that he said he had to take care not to make his portrayal too sympathetic.
“My conscience said stop,” he said.