Dominic West told PEOPLE he was "very worried" about depicting an emotional part of the plotline
Dominic, 54, made the revelation in a new interview with the Radio Times magazine, explaining what went into the decision. The star of The Wire joined The Crown in the part of Prince Charles in season 5, and his teen son Senan (whom he shares with wife Catherine FitzGerald) made his television debut as a young Prince William in the same season. Variety was the first to report the casting news in November 2021, saying Senan’s audition tape "caught the attention of the show's producers."
While Dominic continued in the part of Charles for the sixth and final season of the drama inspired by the lives of the British royal family, he told the Radio Times he hesitated for Senan to appear in season 6 because he did not want to relay the news of the death of Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) on screen.
“I didn’t really fancy doing the scene at Balmoral, telling a boy his mother has died,” Dominic told the Radio Times, The Times reported on Monday.
“They invited Senan back because he did such a good job, and he was great, but I did slightly balk at that,” he continued, making another revelation. “It was unfair of me because he did want to do it, but I wouldn’t have fancied that, to be honest."
The Crown premiered on Netflix in 2016, and its cast changed every two seasons to reflect the royals aging through the decades. The role of Prince William was originated by Timothée Sambor and Senan West in season 5, which chronicled the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage in the 1990s, ultimately resulting in divorce. Season 6 has been split into two parts for the first time in show history; part 1 debuted on Nov. 16, with part 2 due on Dec. 14.
Told in four episodes, the first installment follows the relationship between Princess Diana (Debicki) and Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla) before their fatal car accident in Paris in August 1997. PEOPLE previously confirmed that the moment of impact will be excluded from The Crown, and Netflix has said that part 2 will pick up after the tragedy and show Prince William and Prince Harry (Luther Ford) growing up and navigating the next chapter, including William’s romance with Kate Middleton (Meg Bellamy) at college.
Exclusively speaking to PEOPLE before the part 2 debut, Dominic says that the hardest parts to film for season 6 were the “big emotional scenes” and cites those around Diana’s death.
“I think the big emotional scenes. In many ways they’re wonderful for an actor. But Peter [Morgan] had written two scenes, one in the Scottish mountains and one in the hospital in Paris where Charles bawls, crying. He’s wailing,” Dominic tells PEOPLE of what the showrunner envisioned. “I read that and thought, ‘How does a famously buttoned-up family, famously unemotional family, what are they like in times of high emotion, when something deeply traumatic happens?’ I was very worried about it, then of course comes the day you’re doing it and you’re acting, looking at the body of Diana and what you’ve got is a cross on a map box, that’s what you’ve got to look at. They’re difficult, those scenes. And I suppose those are the ones I was most worried about.”
On what he most hoped to bring into the role of Charles, who acceded as King following Queen Elizabeth’s death in September 2022, the BAFTA winner brought up emotion.
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“You haven’t seen him yet that emotional before. What I really wanted and hoped for was emotional truth, to give an emotional truth to these momentous and tragic events in the first part,” Dominic tells PEOPLE. “Peter had chosen to make him very emotional. He could have just as easily chosen to make him stone cold, but Peter chose him to be emotional, and I think Charles is emotional. So I just hoped that that was truthful, and I could give it emotional truth.”
“You’re very conscious these events mean a lot to a lot of people, especially the ones who are involved and who are still alive, so there’s a feeling of responsibility and a need to take it with respect and very seriously,” he says of the weight that came with the royal role.
Part 1 of The Crown season 6 is now streaming on Netflix.
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