Now and Then

Idris Elba and More Stars of ‘The Wire’: Where Are They Now? (PHOTOS)

HBO’s The Wire made names like McNulty, Bubbles, and Avon Barksdale synonymous with Baltimore. The epic drama touched on all aspects of the drug slinging game, revealing that everyone—including dealers, addicts, politicians, and detectives—moved their own agendas forward at all costs. This seminal and critically acclaimed show unfolded like a great Shakespearean play and all the characters teetered on the line of the morally ambiguous. The closest connection fans have had to the drama since it ended in 2008 was Funny or Die’s hilarious vision of The Wire as a musical, starring some of the original cast-members last year.

Now 11 years after the series premiere of The Wire, Jean Trinh rounds up some favorite cast members and finds out what they’ve been up to since the end of one of the most moving and powerful shows on television.

HBO’s The Wire made names like McNulty, Bubbles, and Avon Barksdale synonymous with Baltimore. The epic drama touched on all aspects of the drug slinging game, revealing that everyone—including dealers, addicts, politicians, and detectives—moved their own agendas forward at all costs. This seminal and critically acclaimed show unfolded like a great Shakespearean play and all the characters teetered on the line of the morally ambiguous. The closest connection fans have had to the drama since it ended in 2008 was Funny or Die’s hilarious vision of The Wire as a musical, starring some of the original cast-members last year.

Now 11 years after the series premiere of The Wire, Jean Trinh rounds up some favorite cast members and finds out what they’ve been up to since the end of one of the most moving and powerful shows on television.

Nicole Rivelli/HBO

Wendell Pierce

Character: William “Bunk” Moreland

Then: Detective Bunk Moreland was Jimmy McNulty’s (Dominic West) partner in crime and shared many similarities with his drinking buddy—as a stellar investigator in the Homicide Division and a lover of all things related to booze and women (despite being a family man). However, his actions weren’t as extreme as his counterpart, and he provided a good deal of comic relief with his sarcastic and profanity-laced comments.

Now: Wendell Pierce reconnected with the David Simon, creator of The Wire, and co-star Clarke Peters (Lester Freamon) for HBO’s Treme. He played the role of Antoine Batiste, a professional trombonist—even taking trombone lessons for the role—and returned to his hometown of New Orleans for filming. He also had stints in CBS’s Numb3rs and USA’s Suits, and film roles in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 and Horrible Bosses.

In a commitment to helping the Big Easy, he and his partners opened a chain of grocery and convenience stores, Sterling Farms, for the city’s low-income neighborhoods, offering more nutritious fare in an area that lacks supermarket access, as reported by NPR.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Michael Kenneth Williams

Character: Omar Little

Then: “You come at the king, you best not miss” was the in-your-face warning stick-up man Omar Little uttered in Season 1. Omar was loved by The Wire fans because he lived by his own code (in a strangely admirable Robin Hood-esque fashion) by holding up drug dealers and stirring fear in the heart of the community. With a scar running down his face and a shotgun strapped to his back, his sing-song whistling would echo through the streets of Baltimore. One of the most clever characters on the show, he always seemed to be a step ahead of his victims. His homosexuality was revealed early on, and as the show progressed, viewers were introduced to his lovers.

Now: Through a variety of roles, Michael K. Williams has been keeping busy in TV, including a three-episode guest role on NBC’s Community as former-convict-turned-professor Marshall Kane. Most notably, he continues to portray Chalky White, racketeer and leader of the African-American community in Atlantic City, on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Elsewhere, he starred as advice-giving Reverend Daniels in web-series comedy, Walk This Way. He will star as Officer Jack Lewis in the film RoboCop, slated to be released in 2014.

 

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Idris Elba

Character: Russell “Stringer” Bell

Then: Stringer Bell’s close friendship with Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) unraveled as he gained more notoriety and power in the Barksdale Organization. His desire to move from the urban to the corporate world as a shrewd businessman—buying real estate and schmoozing with politicians—drew contention from his counterpart in Season 3. His shocking death—after a heartfelt talk with Barksdale—came at the hands of Omar Little (Michael Keith Williams) and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts).

Now: The British actor has made his mark on TV and film, with a role as paper sales executive Charles Miner in NBC’s The Office, and as the star of his highly-acclaimed BBC crime drama miniseries, Luther. In addition to roles in Thor and Prometheus, fans can expect to see Idris Elba in the much-anticipated Pacific Rim, which will be released this summer.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Clarke Peters

Freamon tells McNulty he needs funds to watch MarloCharacter: Lester Freamon

Then: Whenever Detective Lester Freamon wasn’t busy wiretapping phones or heading meticulous and tedious investigations, he was found quietly building dollhouse furniture—a quirk that demonstrated his patience. Due to his checkered past, Freamon endured a long-standing punishment from the police force and was forced to work behind a desk until his drug detail with the team began.

Now: In HBO drama Treme (from The Wire’s co-creator David Simon), Clarke Peters stars as Albert Lambreaux, the Big Chief of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe—a group that often clashes with New Orleans’s law enforcement. He also portrayed Alonzo Quinn, a political campaign manager that lived a double life, on CBS’s Person of Interest. Theatre has always been a passion of Peters’s, and he reunited with fellow The Wire alumni Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty) in a British stage production of Othello.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Aidan Gillen

Character: Thomas “Tommy” Carcetti

Then: We got to see Tommy Carcetti’s rise in power as a Baltimore politician—from Councilman to Mayor to Governor—throughout the drama’s lifespan. Morally ambiguous, Carcetti offered viewers insight into the secret deals between politicians and law enforcement.

Now: Most known for his major role as manipulative Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Irish-born Aidan Gillen has also hit the big screen with roles in The Dark Knight Rises and Shadow Dancer.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Chris Bauer

Then: Frank Sobotka let viewers peek into the shipping world of the drug trade in Season 2 as the Polish-American dock union treasurer and conspirator with “The Greek.” Tough as nails and flawed in his own ways (like every other person in the show), he cared greatly for his son, Ziggy Sobotka (James Ransone), and his nephew, Nick Sobotka (Pablo Schreiber), who would unintentionally take part in his demise.

Now: Most known for his recurring role as detective Andy Bellefleur on HBO’s True Blood, Chris Bauer has guest-starred on numerous shows such as Fox’s Fringe, CBS’s Numb3rs and The Good Wife, and NBC’s The Office.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Andre Royo

Character: Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins

Then: Bubbles Cousins just always wanted to do the right thing, but the heroin addict struggled through each season trying to kick the habit. He tried helping others along the way—even serving as a confidential informant to Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) in Season 1.

Now: Although Andre Royo hasn’t had major roles since the show’s ending, he has kept busy with guest spots on Fox’s Fringe, CBS’s Elementary, and Fox’s Bob Burgers, while he often lends a hand to his wife, the co-owner of Los Angeles fine dining institution Canelé, at her restaurant.

Nicole Rivelli/HBO

Felicia Pearson

Character: Felicia “Snoop” Pearson

Then: Snoop was a tough enforcer and was not one to be messed with—a true gangster and a member of drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield’s (Jamie Hector) crew. She was a cold-blooded killer who found a way to dispose of her victims’ bodies in Season 4 by covering them in quicklime in abandoned houses.

Now: Life imitates art in the case of real-life Felicia Pearson—whose character in The Wire shared the same name. She was arrested in 2011 after a drug raid in her Baltimore home, and pleaded guilty for the charge, resulting with the sentence of a three-year probation. In 2008, Pearson had joined forces with The Wire co-star Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield) to start Moving Mountains, a nonprofit that worked on empowering inner-city youth in Baltimore and New York to get involved with drama and acting.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Dominic West

Character: James “Jimmy” McNulty

Then: Baltimore police detective Jimmy McNulty was never a perfect man, but fans loved him because he excelled as an investigator and did it at all costs, even causing riffs in his personal life. (He spent Seasons 1 and 2 trying to get his family back after his marriage fell apart due to his cheating ways.) He was a true antihero—a boozer, a womanizer, and a punk at heart against all authority. However, he was part of the team that took down drug kingpin Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris), and was the heart and soul of the detail.

Now: Although Dominic West fooled fans with his nearly perfect American accent on The Wire, the British actor has returned to his roots, acting mostly in the U.K. in TV and theatre. In BBC’s The Hour, he starred as Hector Madden, a debonair but drunken news presenter from a wealthy background, for the show’s two-season run. He acted alongside of The Wire co-star, Clarke Peters (Lester Freamon) in Othello at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2011, and earlier this year as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady in the same location. Earlier this month, his feature-length documentary, The UK Gold, took part in the East End Film Festival in England, where he provided the narration for the film on tax avoidance and Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace created the score.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Lance Reddick

Character: Cedric Daniels

Then: We followed Lieutenant Cedric Daniels’s career throughout his ups and downs, in the police force and also in his personal home life with his failing marriage. He later formed a romantic relationship with prosecutor Rhonda Pearlman (Deidre Lovejoy) and eventually became Baltimore Commissioner.

Now: For five seasons, Lance Reddick played Phillip Broyles, the leader of the Fringe Division for the Department of Homeland Security, in Fox’s Fringe. On the heels of The Wire, Reddick joined another highly acclaimed show—ABC’s Lost—as Matthew Abaddon, a mysterious character with seemingly mystical qualities, who served as a member of Charles Widmore’s (Alan Dale) team and mysteriously appearing throughout John Locke’s (Terry O’Quinn) life to guide him to the Island.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Sonja Sohn

Character: Shakima “Kima” Greggs

Then: Kima Greggs was similar to her male colleagues in that she loved women, had issues with the bottle and infidelity, and was a badass in her narcotics detail. She formed a bond with drug addict Bubbles Cousins (Andre Royo) and convinced him to become her main informant. Fans had a bit of a scare when Kima’s life was on the line in Season 1, and she sided with her own morals and values in the final season, putting an end to the careers of some main detectives, including close partner Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters).

Now: Sonja Sohn hasn’t steered far away from resilient law enforcement roles; she’s played major characters as a homicide detective in ABC drama Body of Proof and as a CIA officer in USA’s Burn Notice. (She also played non-law enforcement types on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters and CBS’ The Good Wife.) Sohn is also known for her work in the community as a political activist. She was drawn back to Baltimore after The Wire ended and founded the nonprofit, ReWired for Change, to teach at-risk youth and incarcerated youth “life skills, violence prevention and self-esteem building program,” using workshops and episodes of The Wire as examples, as written on the website. She brought on her co-stars in her program, including Chad Coleman (Cutty Wise), Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield), and Wendell Pierce (Bunk Moreland).

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Wood Harris

Character: Avon Barksdale

Then: The squinty-eyed and elusive West Baltimore drug kingpin Avon Barksdale was the main target of the narcotics detail in Season 1. He was eventually locked up behind bars in Season 2, only to be released in the following season to face a new set of issues—the changes in his organization under the care of his childhood friend, Stringer Bell (Idris Elba).

Now: With a background in theatre, Wood Harris returned to the stage for his Broadway debut in A Streetcar Named Desire last year. Some of his brief roles in TV included guesting on TNT’s Southland and CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, as well as a 2014 film role as Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton in Sweetwater, a film about the first African-American NBA player.