British actor Dominic West has made his biggest impression playing roguish Detective James McNulty on The Wire, but he's also find some success on the big screen: he played Renée Zellweger's lover in Chicago, and was soon after cast opposite Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile. In an interview in today's The Guardian, he recalls the illuminating, grueling, and sometimes extremely annoying experience of working with Hollywood's highest-paid actresses:
"I learned a lot from working with [Renée]," he said. "She was so tough. I would hear the director say, 'Cut' and then wait for instructions; she would demand another 15 takes until she was absolutely happy with the scene. These leading ladies have it tough: they have to be girly enough to remain attractive but retain a steeliness to get their own way too. Plus, they seem to starve themselves all day to stay in shape."
Next came a role opposite Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile. "The movie didn't make much sense. We would be given new scenes to film out of the blue which, it transpired, had been written by Julia's agent, who was doubling as a producer," he says. "I don't know what anyone was doing there. No one seemed to enjoy it. Especially not Julia. She had just got married and just wanted to be off having sex with her husband. Trouble was, she had married the cameraman on the movie. You can't really relax in a sex scene when the husband is staring right at you."
Perhaps West might consider starting a support group for non-porn actors scarred by their experiences of having to perform in front of their co-stars' significant others. We know Scott Speedman still wakes up in cold night sweats, reliving the nightmarish time director Len Wiseman kept shouting, "More animal! I want to see you impale her with your hairy weremember!" from behind a monitor as he oversaw Underworld: Evolution's steamy inter-monster sex scene with his wife, Kate Beckinsale.