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Why Prince Charles From Netflix's The Crown Looks So Familiar

Netflix's "The Crown" is back once again, and given that it's season five — the first of what will be the hit show's last two seasons — this means a new set of faces playing the royals. Now, where we saw Claire Foy in the place of Queen Elizabeth II in the first two seasons and Olivia Colman in Seasons 3 and 4, we see Imelda Staunton. Prince Phillip, played formerly by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies, is now played by Jonathan Pryce.

So too, are the younger royals switched out in favor of new casting. Emma Corrin, who was introduced as Princess Diana in Season 4, is now played by Elizabeth Debicki. And while Josh O'Connor evened out their ill-conceived royal pairing as Prince Charles, it is now Dominic West playing the future (now present) King of Britain.

West has apparently taken to the role well, even being jokingly greeted as "your majesty" by King Charles' wife, the Queen Consort Camilla, not long after he was cast (via People). But, to be fair, this is an actor whose face has been recognizable for some time.

He played Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Like many British actors, Dominic West was trained in one of the UK's prestigious dramatic institutions, graduating from London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1995, and started getting cast almost immediately (via Esquire).

Among his recognizable early roles was a turn in Michael Hoffman's 1999 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream," in which West played Lysander, one of the four tempestuous lovers lost in the woods, subject to the whims of Puck (Stanley Tucci) and the rest of the mischievous sprites and fairies.

The cast of Hoffman's adaptation was impressive, including Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel, and Christian Bale as the other three lost lovers, Rupert Everett and Michelle Pfeiffer as fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania, and Kevin Kline as the "rude mechanicals" Bottom. Despite this star-studded cast, the film met with mixed reviews. Janet Maslin of the New York Times chalked this up to the uneven and sometimes awkward acting, though she complimented Friel and West for the relative ease with which they took to their roles.

From Chicago to The Wire

Eagle-eyed musical fans will also recognize Dominic West in another stage-to-screen adaptation, one of the biggest live-action musicals of all time: 2002's "Chicago." West isn't on screen for long, but he plays a pivotal role nonetheless: that of Fred Casely, the dishonest furniture salesman with whom Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) has an affair before she guns him down in a rage. It is Casely's murder that has Roxie arrested, jailed, and eventually the rival of Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

That same year, West began appearing in what is probably his most iconic role: that of Detective Jimmy McNulty in David Simon's critically-lauded "The Wire." West's performance as the troubled but skilled cop was frequently singled out for praise, as was his ability to do a convincing and distinctive Baltimore accent (via BBC). On top of being a breakout role, West also grabbed his first director credit for "The Wire" when he directed the 2008 episode "Took" (via IMDb).

He played Theron in 300

"The Wire" provided a massive boost to Dominic West's career. During his tenure on the series, he became an increasingly recognizable face, appearing in a string of high-profile films that continued to expose him to a widening audience. These included a turn in "Mona Lisa Smile" alongside Julia Roberts and in "Hannibal Rising" as an inspector on the trail of the budding sociopath.

West also appeared in one of the biggest action films of the mid-aughts. In 2006, he appeared in Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book series "300" as the Spartan politician Theron. One of the few characters in the film not to appear in Miller's original comic, Theron is creepy, profoundly corrupt, and self-serving, willing to let the small Spartan forces at Thermopylae fall. Only after he is killed by Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) is he revealed to be on the take from Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the Persians.

He played Noah in The Affair

Dominic West has worked consistently since "The Wire" came to an end in 2008, playing everyone from disfigured comic book villain Jigsaw in "Punisher: War Zone" to Jean Valjean in the BBC's 2018 adaptation of "Les Misérables."

His best-known role, however, has been that of Noah Solloway on Showtime's psychological drama "The Affair." West's married Solloway is, of course, having the titular affair with Ruth Wilson's Alison. Noted for its innovative storytelling that reveals the memory bias of lead and supporting characters, West and Wilson's performances were praised during the series' run. However, at least one critic — Sam Wollaston at the Guardian — wondered how having two British leads in an American series would go over. "You've got this big American drama series, made in America, set in America, about Americans, and who do they get to play the leads? A couple of limeys. Ha! Well, we're ... they're ... very good at it."