The legendary American criminal thriller “The Wire” first aired on television 20 years ago. The debut episode from creators David Simon, a former Baltimore police reporter, and writing partner Ed Burns, a former Baltimore homicide detective, premiered on HBO on June 2, 2002. Over the course of five seasons, “The Wire” investigated the Baltimore drug world through the perspective of memorable characters played by performers who went on to become household names. As “The Wire” celebrates its 20th anniversary, here’s where the cast is.
Where is Michael K. Williams (Omar Devon Little)
Omar, the shotgun-toting, trenchcoat-wearing gay stick-up man, was iconic and fearless to the end, robbing rival drug gangs while adhering to his own stringent personal code. Williams received five Emmy nominations in total, including one for his portrayal as Montrose Williams in HBO’s drama series “Lovecraft Country.” In HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” he played racketeer Chalky White (pictured), the strong, unofficial head of the African-American community during the Prohibition era. Williams died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 54 in 2021.
Where is Dominic West (Det. James ‘Jimmy’ McNulty)
“The Wire,” tells the story through the perspective of a hard-nosed and hard-drinking detective, roughly based on Burns, who goes up against his superiors in his investigations. McNulty is sober at the end of the series but disillusioned with the system. In the 2014-19 Showtime drama “The Affair,” West played Noah, who had an adulterous relationship with Ruth Wilson’s Alison. West’s past performances include the dishonest warrior Theron in “300” and Prince Charles in Netflix’s “The Crown.”
Idris Elba (Russell “Stringer” Bell)
Through real estate investments and political connections, the business-savvy Bell attempted to legitimate the Barksdale Organization, a rising Baltimore drug empire. His betrayal of boyhood’s best friend and mafia leader Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) eventually results to his demise at the hands of competitor Omar. Elba, who was named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018, went on to play Heimdall in Marvel’s “Thor” saga and Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in 2013. Elba has received four Emmy nods for his portrayal as troubled Detective John Luther in the BBC series “Luther,” and will reprise the role in a Netflix feature set to release in late 2022.
Michael B. Jordan (Wallace)
Michael B. Jordan’s first part in “The Wire” was as a 15-year-old drug dealer. The ultimate victim of the hazardous system, the child is heartbreakingly murdered by his best pals after attempting to leave the illicit business and speaking to authorities. Jordan has been a box-office titan since his breakout 2013 feature “Fruitvale Station,” starring as Adonis Creed in the “Creed” franchise (a third film is set for November) and antagonist Erik Killmonger in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Jordan has been crowned People’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2020.
Sonja Sohn (Det. Shakima ‘Kima’ Griggs)
Griggs, who is openly lesbian, flourished in a predominantly male police force. Kima formed a key informant relationship with smart, tragic heroin addict Bubbles, despite her outward cynicism (Andre Royo). In Baltimore, HBO Sohn has been politically involved. “Baltimore Rising,” a documentary about protests following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, was her directorial debut. (Protesters Makayla Gilliam-Price and Kwame Rose are pictured with Sohn in the centre.) Sohn also appeared in “Star Trek: Discovery” as Dr. Gabrielle Burnham.
Wendell Pierce (Det. William ‘Bunk’ Moreland)
The curmudgeonly veteran homicide detective, McNulty’s greatest friend and single ally, distinguished himself by being submissive to the police line of command. The two frequently competed in drinking, with the loser being responsible for the bar tab. In the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. drama “Selma,” Pierce played Rev. Hosea Williams. He co-created HBO’s 2010-13 drama “Treme,” in which he played New Orleans trombonist Antoine Batiste, and featured as Willy Loman in the 2019 London West End revival of “Death of a Salesman,” for which he received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for outstanding actor.
Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon)
The ever-methodical Freamon was a key investigator and avuncular character before being banished to the pawn store by police brass. Peters has long been a favourite of director Spike Lee, who cast him in “Red Hook Summer” in 2012 and as Vietnam vet Otis in “Da 5 Bloods” in 2020. He also starred in Simon’s “Treme” as Mardi Gras Indian leader Albert Lambreaux. Spike Lee’s favourite actor, Peters, appeared in 2012’s “Red Hook Summer” and will play Vietnam vet Otis in 2020’s “Da 5 Bloods.” In Simon’s “Treme,” he played Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux.