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Our Dominique wows Hollywood critics

IRISH actress Dominique McElligott is fast becoming hot Hollywood property thanks to a spunky role in a Western drama series.

Hell On Wheels premiered in the US this month and with 4.4 million viewers for its first episode, it is already being hailed a major success.

The 25-year-old Dublin native portrays widow Lily Bell in the drama which follows the lives of the men and women affected by the railroad industry in the American West in 1865.

According to renowned American magazine Entertainment Weekly, Dominique's Lily may be "the most promising character in the series". Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal describes Dominique as "radiant".

While the petite blonde has been steadily raising her profile at home with appearances in hit movie The Guard in which she plays a hooker, RTE drama On Home Ground and Raw, Dominique revealed that she was completely unknown in the US when she was picked as the lead female character.

"I hadn't done any work in America," she said. "Ironically enough, I was doing a Western in Bolivia, and my manager was bugging me to come over to LA and I didn't want to.

"I was hanging out in London, just back from this Western I did and I was having drinks with friends who are all flight attendants, and they said that they would get me over to America for free, and I could stay and do some meetings and auditions. Hell on Wheels was the first one. It was crazy! They didn't know me."

The UCD graduate admitted that shooting on location had been physically and emotionally demanding.

"I would go home with 42 mosquito bites, just weighed down by 100 pounds of clothes and corseted. It's just crazy, how these women survived.

"Well, they didn't. I read that the average lifespan for a woman, when she arrived at Hell On Wheels, was 17 months.

"They would die because of all the things they had to cope with. That gives you an idea of how gritty it was."