DuJour Navigation

Actor Dominic Adams’s Guide to Bristol, England

The Brit, who stars in the History channel’s new military drama Six, talks art imitating life and sharing a native home with Banksy

The last time you saw Dominic Adams on television, he probably had his shirt off. His run as the sexy and dangerous Tony Bishara on Lifetime’s Devious Maids cemented him as an actor worth watching, in more ways than one. Adams’s next major TV role—in History’s Harvey Weinstein-produced military drama, Six, which debuts Jan. 18—finds him fully clothed, but far more emotionally vulnerable. In the new series, which is ripped from real headlines, Navy SEALs are confronted with a complex mission when they discover an American citizen is working with the Taliban. Adams plays Michael, the defector, who struggles with how to reconcile identity and allegiance as an Arab-American in post-9/11 America.

“It was a lot of research in understanding how people can get their heads swayed, how people can tune into this way of life. And into the thinking that the only option they have in making themselves heard, and having a voice, is to go towards terrorism,” Adams says of his preparation for the role.

In a time when countries worldwide are watching their citizens trade national pride for the doctrines of extremist organizations, Six explores how individuals end up on such a path. It also depicts how, for those in the U.S. military, the line between other and comrade can become blurred when an American aligns himself with an enemy.  

“Michael grew up a very proud American boy who loved American sports, went to Michigan State University, was a successful and popular student,” Adams says of his character. “His parents happened to be Lebanese, so he was a first generation American. That was what his identity: an American who is Muslim.”

While Adams has not felt the same degree of pressure in reconciling his identity, as a Brit born and raised by a Persian-Iranian father, he understands the experience of having a diverse cultural and ethnic background.

“I actually don’t follow any particular organized religion, but there are different sides and identities to me as a man,” Adams says. “I feel very, very English, but my roots and my bloodline—which link back to the Trojan empire and a truly amazing culture in Iran—are also something I am very proud of.”

Perhaps it is this diversity that makes Adams adept at playing such a complex and challenging character. According to the actor, it has certainly provided him with insight on human discord. Adams hopes Michael does not serve solely as an indictment on defecting, but also as a lens through which to question how to prevent this growing phenomenon.

“I don’t condone any kind of senseless violence or killing in anybody’s name. I think it’s really important right now that we start to close those gaps and narrow those chasms in terms of “Oh, this person is different from us, or these people over here, they follow this religion, there is no similarity, we can’t communicate or resonate with them,'” Adams says. “I think it’s very important to understand, well actually, we can, because we are all the same.”

One would think approaching such internal and societal isolation would have given Adams trepidation, but he insists the darkness is what he is drawn to as a performer.

“I’ve always naturally gravitated towards deeper, psychologically driven, complex characters and stories. I remember doing Romeo and Juliet as a young boy of maybe 14 or 15 and being drawn toward Mercutio, the darker, more complex role. Six has really afforded me the opportunity to deal with a very rich character.”

To understand Adams’s diplomatic view of the world as a citizen and an artist, one might begin by looking at where he came from: Bristol, Southern England’s second most populous city after London. The port city is known for being a cultural hotbed; its other native sons include Banksy, Wallace and Gromit, and Massive Attack, among others.  

“Bristol is a special place. It has a myriad of influences. This is so evident in the arts and cultures the city provides on a worldwide stage,” Adams says of his home. “It produces art that has a perspective, a very interesting outlook on life, and is political—especially Massive Attack and Banksy. It has something to say. And this is born out of the city feeling very alive. There are a lot of opinions, and a lot of vitality and vibrancy.”

For the best way to experience the creative hub that Adams calls home, look no further than his below guide to the best Bristol has to offer.

Cup of Joe: Having been spoilt for good coffee in Los Angeles the last few years (Andante Coffee Roasters I’m looking at you), it can be challenging [to find] when back home. Brew Coffee Co., a cute little space with a friendly staff, is my go to for a great almond cappuccino.

Power Lunch: Located in Clock Tower Yard, just beside the historic Temple Meads Train Station, is Yurt Lush, a [café] inside a Mongolian yurt. Try the delicious lamb kofta served with severn project leaf, baba ganoush, tzatziki and flatbread—all the ingredients are sourced locally.  

Retail Therapy: Whether you are after antiques, art, special jewelry or clothing, head to Clifton Village, a gorgeous suburb of Bristol that’s full of interesting and unique shopping. It’s a most enjoyable way of whiling away an afternoon and causing your credit card to catch fire. 

Field Trip: Head to the Bristol Old Vic to see whatever happens to be on. [The theater, which produces] consistently high-level pieces that range from Shakespeare to contemporary works, was built between 1764-66 and has been described by Daniel Day Lewis as ‘the most beautiful in England.’

Cocktail Hour: After feasting your eyes on pieces by local luminaries like Banksy at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, pop around the corner to Hyde & Co, a low-lit speakeasy with a plethora of homemade syrups, bitters and tinctures. You tell them what flavors you fancy and they whip up something delicious. 

Date Night: Fifteen minutes outside Bristol, toward the beautiful Roman city of Bath, lies The Pig. The quintessentially English country house boasts beautiful views and surrounding grounds showcasing the West Country at its best. Gorgeous food is [prepared] with a multitude of vegetables and meats sourced from the property. Disappear into a wonderful bottle of red and, with 29 bedrooms available, make a romantic night of it.

Don’t Miss: A walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The structure, which opened in 1864, is based on designs by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the most prolific and ingenious figures in engineering. It’s a lovely piece of history above the River Avon and a true Bristolian landmark.

Hidden Gem: My father’s kitchen! A trip home is never complete without delicious, home-cooked Persian food. Sorry to say this to y’all wanting to visit: No, it’s not open to the public. 

Image Credit: Katya Tsyganova