How King Charles' 'big sausage fingers' helped Dominic West's performance in The Crown

Dominic West’s casting as Charles in The Crown had some naysayers, but he proved them all wrong

Dominic West as Prince Charles in the Crown
(Image credit: Netflix)

Dominic West took over the role of Prince Charles – now the King – for the latest season of The Crown. While some doubted Dominic’s likeness to the then Prince of Wales, he quickly proved he was more than up for the job. The star of shows like The Affair explains how he tapped into the role of Charles, relying heavily on physical quirks like his “big sausage fingers… he’s always fiddling with.”

“Oh my god, I’m nothing like this guy.”

Dominic West nearly bowed out of playing Charles before he ever really got a chance to have a go, according to the actor himself.

In an interview with Town and Country, Dominic opened up on the doubts he felt playing the now King. He describes his screen test opposite Elizabeth Debicki – almost universally celebrated as Diana’s doppelganger - as “awful” and he spiraled from “I don’t know what I’m doing” to “they’ve horribly miscast me.”

Fortunately, he pushed through, and his role has been seen as a considerable success for season five of The Crown. And it’s all thanks to some similarities and physical traits he could tap into to embody the then Prince of Wales.

Explaining some of these similarities he describes having “quite short legs and quite a big head and I’ve got a bit of a stoop, like him.”

The Crown’s team of experts helped him get further into character, with a voice coach telling him, “You mustn’t open your mouth, talk through clenched teeth the whole time.”

Body language came next, with a big emphasis on Charles’ infamous swollen fingers. Dominic explains, along with some pointing and fidgeting, “He’s got these big sausage fingers, and he’s always fiddling with them.”

Charles' fingers have caused concern among fans in the past

(Image credit: Arthur Edwards - Pool/Getty Images)

But he’s quick to point out it’s nothing but respect for the King. “I’m a big fan of Prince Charles, as he was. I didn’t want to be doing anything to upset his mission.”

“That’s what you live for as an actor,” he says of ultimately taking the role, “great parts with great writing and on a great show.”

Dominic’s Prince Charles takes over from Josh O’Connor’s, who played the now King in his younger years.

Josh’s Charles was last seen begging his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth (played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman), for a divorce.

Dominic West is an ambassador for Charles' Prince's Trust

(Image credit: Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

To tap into his version of Charles, Dominic explained that he was in a much more assured time of his life, but still very aware of his role in the monarchy.

“This is a man, in the prime of his life, who cannot and has not been able to fulfill his destiny,” Dominic said. “This is a man who, in his late forties, still has to obey his mother, not just as his mother but as his sovereign, queen, his boss.”

Seemingly throwing his weight behind the King during the much-publicized battle with Diana as depicted throughout this season of The Crown, Dominic praises Charles (and other senior royals) for putting duty above star power.

He is quoted as saying, “The trouble was Diana was such a superstar. She’s got such star quality that he doesn’t have. None of the royals does, and good, thank God, because their job is quite boring.” “We’re finding it now with our prime ministers, and you with your presidents: It’s exhausting having a high-octane leader who’s very media savvy,” he continued.

“We long for the rather boring, sensible ones who are functionaries who get on with the job.”

Dominic is an ambassador for Charles’ Prince’s Trust Charity, and out of respect, he offered to resign from his position after taking the role. However, the actor told the Radio Times magazine that his resignation offer was refused via a letter from King Charles’s private secretary, which said, “You do what you like, you’re an actor. It’s nothing to do with us.”

Dominic also told the Radio Times that his casting might’ve had the seal of approval from someone very important – Camilla. He says that, at a party in 2021, she called him “Your Majesty” in an apparent approval of his casting.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.