The star of hit US TV series The Wire has criticised the trend for Hollywood actors to be cast as British heroes.

Dominic West rounded on the likes of Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp and Renee Zellweger who have played prominent Brits in recent years, accusing them of ‘stealing our great heroes’.

Conversely, Sheffield-born Dominic, 39, found fame playing a US cop in The Wire, currently being screened by BBC2 after finding a huge audience through DVD box set sales.

The Old Etonian is to play Australian Professor Howard Florey in an upcoming BBC4 biopic.

He said he took the role in Breaking The Mould, about the discovery of penicillin, partly as an attempt to turn the tables.

“Florey got the Nobel Prize with (Alexander) Fleming but was basically lost to history really, except in Australia where he was recently voted the greatest Australian of all time.

“I’d never heard of this guy and I just thought it would be interesting to play this unknown guy and then they said he’s the biggest guy in Australia.

“But I was sort of smarting from Russell Crowe coming over here and playing Robin Hood and all these foreigners coming over here and stealing our great heroes – I felt I was striking a blow back by being a Brit playing a foreigner.”

Dominic added: “I’d love to play Robin Hood but I’d particularly like to play all those parts Johnny Depp plays that are English people like The Earl of Rochester.”

Depp played debauched poet Rochester in The Libertine and Peter Pan author JM Barrie in Finding Neverland.