Believe it or not, today marks the tenth anniversary of the first episode of HBO’s phenomenal crime series The Wire, which in case you hadn’t heard, is famous for its hyperrealistic portrayal of urban life and excellent storytelling. To commemorate the date, Kottke tipped us off to this excellent (and massive) discussion over at Maxim, featuring input from everyone from creator David Simon to casting director Alexa Fogel to the actors who played your favorite (and most hated) characters. The entire article is well worth a read, but in case you’re in a time crunch, we’ve distilled a few of our favorite segments after the jump.
Alexa Fogel (Casting Director): With Domenic, on the page that character was very different physically and age wise. We exhausted our ideas and possibilities and I was pretty desperate. We had not cast this role really close to shooting the pilot.
Dominic West (Officer James “Jimmy” McNulty): It was just another audition tape to send off to a casting director. I suppose the thing that was going through my mind was how I spent most of my boyhood running around pretending to be Starsky or Hutch, so it was something of a fantasy for me to play an American cop.
Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon): I wound up buying a house in Baltimore, and when I go back I see some of the characters who were just extras, whether they’re bartenders or councilmen or street people. They’re still there. They’re like, “That was your gig, but this is our life!” It’s surreal.
Andre Royo (Bubbles): I was excited be-cause, you know, HBO at the time was Sunday night. Me and my lady puffin’ a blunt. It wasn’t like the networks. It was that channel with real writing, real actors, real stories. So I was excited till they said they wanted me to audition for a junkie named Bubbles. I went in, and David Simon was there, and I said, “Look, I’m not doing any characteristic junkie. I’m not cracking. I don’t wanna be the comic relief.”
Michael B. Jordan (Wallace, Barksdale gang dealer): This is some real shit. It was real to the point where crackheads would come up and try to cop. I had fake money, and they would come over, and an exchange would go down. I would think they were part of the crew, and I’d make the exchange. Then security would come around and be like, “No! No! No!” and break it up. I was like, “Oh, shit! That’s really a crack-head! I’m sorry! I’m not really a drug dealer!”
Tristan Wilds (Michael Lee, student, Stanfield gang enforcer): Every time we’d get a script all four of us would sit down with Robert Chew go over the script and make sure we had it down.
Robert F. Chew (Joseph “Proposition Joe” Stewart, drug kingpin): A couple of them were not from Baltimore so they did not have the lingo and the dialect, so I’d give them hints on that and just understanding the emotion of the scene.
Robert Wisdom: Anytime you found out that somebody would die, the buzz would go around. Like, “Today Omar’s gonna get it.”
George Pelecanos: [Killing any character] was always up for debate. For example, Omar, that was going up to the 11th hour whether he was gonna go or not.
Dennis Lehane: We were all talking over each other. “He can’t die a dignified death.” You know, because Omar was such a hero in a lot of ways, so if we said this guy is gonna go out in some sort of blaze of glory, then we’re glorifying the street. Michael Williams’ mother, when I met her, she said, “Whatever you do, don’t kill my boy.” And she’s this sweet little old lady, you know? And I remember looking her in the eye and saying, “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt your son.” So [after it was written], all I thought was, Michael’s mother’s gonna beat me to death with her umbrella.
Michael K. Williams: Oh, I was hurt. But it wasn’t like I was surprised. I was glad that Marlo and Snoop and Chris never got to touch him. They couldn’t catch him slippin’ like that.
Felicia “Snoop” Pearson: If you look real closely there’s a star on the back of my hair – it was braided for me just for that line: “How’s my hair look?”
Tristan Wilds: I remember when I first read the script, I was like “Noooo! Why do I gotta do it?” Snoop became like my big sister to me; she was everything. I was actually with my niece a couple months ago and she was watching iCarly –and there was a scene where Sam takes paint ball gun and shoots Gib, but he looks at her before she does and says, ‘How’s my hair look?’ And she says, “You look good, Gib.”
Method Man: I always went online to see the reactions that people would have after someone got killed. Snoop, when she got killed, oh you should’ve seen it. You would’ve thought somebody really died. Like it was a funeral happening: “RIP Snoop, we gon’ miss you,” and all this craziness. They were just two lines short of making “In Memory Of” T-Shirts. Same thing with Omar. Stringer, same thing. Then when I die, it’s like “good for him. They should’ve killed his ass sooner.”