06/06/2013 10:21 BST | Updated 06/08/2013 06:12 BST

'The Wire' Star John Doman Moves From Baltimore To 'Borgia'

"I don't mind the story being a powerful one - hit them right there," chuckles John Doman. "You want an audience to remember you."

The cheerily gruff, charismatic actor could be referring to his stand-out performance in 'The Wire', where he walked a tight rope of corruption as Deputy Police Commissioner William Rawls, who danced an unpredictable gavotte around Jim McNulty and the other officers in his charge.

the wire

John Doman in 'Borgia', as the cunning Cardinal turned infamous Pope

Instead, he's musing on a more ancient time, with his role in 'Borgia', where he plays Rodrigo Borgia, whose reign as pope would be remembered as the most infamous chapter of the history of the Catholic church, and who famously remained in a thrall to the pleasures of the flesh to rival that of his faith.

Not to be confused with the Jeremy Irons series, this adaptation, penned by small screen writing legend Tom Fontana (St Elsewhere, Oz) and currently enjoying its second series on Netflix, concentrates on the rise to power of this Catalan icon, and the rest of his family, a dynasty that would spread its influence across the western world of that era.

It's a long way from the Baltimore of 'The Wire' for Doman, currently sitting in 90-degree heat just outside Rome, dressed in a full set of Pontiff vestments, being fanned between takes. What's the appeal?

"Tom Fontana is a pretty inspiring man to try to interpret," he muses, of the series writer. "And it's a rich tale indeed."

Is it an accurate one? Doman brushes off this concern with a wave of the hand.

"The truth is not an altar," he pronounces. "The great privilege is to put the history out there, to share."

the wire

Doman as the corruptible Police Commissioner Rawls in 'The Wire'

It's impossible to chat with Doman for long without mentioning the phenomenon of 'The Wire', David Chase's slow burner that only permeated the global consciousness after a quiet initial run on HBO cable channel in the States.

It made stars of a whole bunch of disparate characters, none more so than Brits Dominic West, who convincingly disguised his clipped Eton tones as McNulty, and, of course, Idris Elba, who came into his own as the singular Stringer Bell.

"It took a long time," agrees Doman. "We had no idea what we had created for years and years, and then it started to trickle through. I'd forgotten all about it, and suddenly people were giving me double takes, and I had no idea why. It took a while to dawn…. and here we are," he beams, a man evidently happy with his lot, even if he is wearing something the weight of the curtain at the Theatre Royal. The rest of us are mopping our brows, but John Dorman somehow stays cool.

'Borgia Series 2 is now available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below...