"The Affair" star Dominic West on new "Les Mis" adaptation, equal pay and his Irish castle

Dominic West on new "Les Mis" adaptation
Dominic West on new "Les Mis" adaptation 04:49

Actor Dominic West earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing a cheating husband who complicates his family's life in the hit Showtime series "The Affair." Now he's taking on the role of Jean Valjean in a new adaptation of the classic novel "Les Misérables" for Masterpiece on PBS.

West told "CBS This Morning" that when he was initially approached about the role he said, "What's the point?" 

"There's a very successful film and obviously a very successful show so what's the point of redoing this again?" West said. "Then I read the book and I realized there's so much more going on than you can fit into a musical. … Certainly in living memory there hasn't been a long-form adaptation of the book."

Valjean, West's character, is haunted by his past after serving 19 years in prison for stealing bread. He calls Valjean one of literature's greatest heroes.

"He climbs up the sides of houses like Spider Man. He fights like Iron Man. But none of those guys have done 20 years hard labor in a 19th century French prison, so he's tough." West said. "He's a tough, strong man, but what's sort of more heroic about him is his constant battle with himself to be a loving, compassionate person."

West came to prominence for his role in the hit David Simon series "The Wire" before taking on the role of cheating husband in "The Affair." The show's fifth and final season will debut later this year. West said his character finally finds a slightly "comic edge."  

"In the first three or four episodes he's quite funny and now he's found, thank God, a bit of wisdom. He's been through the mill. Obviously he's been to jail and he's found some sort of wisdom in that and I was hoping he might lighten up a bit," he said.

West's co-star Ruth Wilson left the "The Affair" last season and has publicly said that she believes she was paid less than her male counterpart, though has not said that pay equity was part of that decision.

"That wasn't why she left, by the way," West said, and admitted that before the Time's Up movement spotlighted the pay gap in Hollywood, he was "completely unaware of this issue."

"It's easy, or was easy, for actors like me not to ever question the pay. It never occurred to me – it's what your agent does. So I suppose what this has done has made people like me aware of that and that we can be more involved in the contract discussions, I suppose," West said.

The 49-year-old also dished on the castle – yes, castle – he owns.

"Glin Castle on the west coast of Ireland. It's very beautiful, on the banks of the River Shannon. We are very keen for people to come and stay because it obviously it costs a lot to keep it going. So, visit."