There isn’t a Top TV countdown anywhere on the planet that doesn’t include the Baltimore crime drama in the upper echelons.
It’s now twenty years to the week since it first aired on HBO in the US and two decades later it still holds its own unlike a few other ‘of the time’ shows, which haven’t aged as well.
Of course, some of the quotes are now legendary…’Omar’s coming’, ‘you come at the king, you best not miss’ and ‘a man must have a code’ while some of the plot twists and dramatic scenes are studied by film students all over the world.
But it is the protagonists and the actors behind them that ultimately made The Wire the hit that it is. Characters like Omar, Bunk, Stringer, McNulty, Avion, Kimi, Herc, Carcetti, Clay and Bubbles are all enshrined on TV history. But where are the actors now?
Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty
The original leading man of David Simon’s show, McNulty was the clichéd self-sabotaging alcoholic cop with deep-rooted personal problems. But nothing about his character arc and impeccable performances turned out to be a cliché.
The critical acclaim lorded over the 52-year-old Englishman earned him roles in major movies and another acclaimed drama, The Affair, for which he earned his second Golden Globe nomination. He is about to appear as Prince Charles in seasons 5 and 6 of Netflix hit The Crown.
Wendell Pierce as Bunk Moreland
As Detective ‘Bunk’ Moreland, Pierce quickly became one of The Wire’s most frequent scene-stealers, sharing certain self-destructive tendencies with his best friend, McNulty, but finding ways to hide it better so he could maintain his perch as the resident gifted curmudgeon among the Baltimore PD.
In 2010, he reunited with The Wire creator David Simon for a drama series set in his hometown of New Orleans, Treme. Most recently, he’s been seen in films like Selma and TV series like Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan and playing Meghan Markle’s dad in Suits and is about to take on some lucrative voice over work on Disney’s Eureka.
Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs
Prior to The Wire Sohn had made appearances in films like Perfume, Shaft, and Bringing Out the Dead, but like a lot of her costars her role in The Wire turned out to be a career-maker.
After staying with The Wire through all five seasons, Sohn continued to work regularly, frequently nabbing recurring and starring roles in high-profile TV series like Brothers & Sisters, Cold Case, Body of Proof, Burn Notice, The Good Wife, The Originals, and Shut Eye. More recently, she could be found on the acclaimed Showtime series The Chi, the Amazon series Utopia, and the CBS All Access sci-fi drama Star Trek: Discovery.
Domenick Lombardozzi as Thomas 'Herc' Hauk
As one half of the duo that included Ellis Carver, Herc was a key player in the initial wiretap crew that formed in season 1. The Wire helped to make Lombardozzi's career, and major roles soon followed including Entourage, Bored to Death and the utterly brilliant Boardwalk Empire. Most recently he appeared in Billions, The Deuce and Mrs. Fletcher as well as The King of Staten Island.
Michael K. Williams as Omar Little
Small roles in Bringing Out the Dead and The Sopranos didn’t help to inform us how good Williams is as an actor. But playing Omar here made him a legend. It was supposed to be a cop show but David Simon soon realised that he had a gem so Omar's point of view as a hold-up man with a very strict moral code and a rich private life made him both a fan-favourite and a key part of the show's emotional core.
He then went on to steal the show on Boardwalk Empire, When They See Us and a brilliant role in The Night Of. On September 6, 2021, the 54 year old legend was found dead in his apartment cutting short a brilliant career. RIP
Idris Elba as Stringer Bell
It wasn’t his first acting job but with The Wire and the role of Stringer Bell, Elba was arguably the show’s most prominent antagonist, and in the years since the series has ended, he has become the biggest star to emerge from the entire show.
Following The Wire, the 50-year-old Londoner landed roles in films like American Gangster and 28 Weeks Later, then flexed his comedy muscles for a while with a guest-starring role on the American version of The Office. From there, the blockbusters started rolling in, as he landed a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Heimdall in Thor, Janek in Prometheus and Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim.
He also lead the cast in BBC’s Luther and is regularly tipped to be the next James Bond.
Aidan Gillen as Tommy Carcetti
When Gillen eventually joined the series, he showed up in the third season as Tommy Carcetti, a key player in the Baltimore political machine who’d soon became a major part of the series’ final seasons.
Following The Wire, more high-profile work followed the Dubliner including Littlefinger Baelish in Game of Thrones, The Maze Runner franchise, The Dark Knight Rises, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Bohemian Rhapsody. TV wise he has been everywhere including Love/Hate, Quantum Break and Peaky Blinders.
BEST OF THE REST:
Lance Reddick played Cedric Daniels long before he became the concierge of John Wick’s favourite hotel The Continental.
Deirdre Lovejoy played Rhonda Pearlman in and out of the show for five seasons and has since been in The West Wing, Without a Trace, Judging Amy, NYPD Blue, Cold Case, Lie to Me, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Bones, Body of Proof, and Orange is the New Black.
After playing Ellis Carver, Seth Gilliam went from arresting crooks to fighting zombies in the horror hit The Walking Dead as Father Gabriel Stokes. He also had roles in Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Person of Interest, Criminal Minds, The Good Wife and Teen Wolf.
Michael B. Jordan left us all devastated with his turn as Wallace but has since gone on to be the leading man in Black Panther, Creed and Friday Night Lights.
As for Wood Harris, he left an impression as drug lord Avon Barksdale and since then he’s appeared in Empire, The Breaks, and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on TV but he is also well known for his detective role in Ant-Man.