Ten years on from its premiere, HBO’s The Wire is still having a significant impact on today’s audiences — including those who have only recently discovered the show — the definition of our motto: “story continues”. To recall the making of an American classic, Maxim got together with the creators and cast of The Wire — here are 15 of the of the best quotables from the piece.
Note: If you’re yet to watch The Wire, there are spoilers below, and especially at the source article — do yourself a favor and watch it first then come back here.
Idris Elba (Russell “Stringer” Bell, Barksdale gang): I’d lived in America for a while at that point, so it was like training all day in life—getting a bit of an acute ear for it. I wasn’t perfecting my accent. I was just living life, trying to survive. Stringer was a smaller part as written, but I was given an opportunity, so I’m taking it.
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.
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.”
David Simon: Omar was a combination of various guys Ed had used as informants or knew. He was an amalgam.
Ed Burns: The Omars of the world are warriors, too. They’re the guys who despise the drug dealers. He’s the rebel, and he goes by his own code. When I was a cop, you’d look for guys like this. If you’re sticking up drug dealers, you have to carry a gun. And if you’re carrying a gun, I can lock you up. Pretty simple math. Once I lock you up, then we sit down, and we start talking, and then we start going to the State’s Attorney’s office, going to the judge, making deals. So I knew a lot of Omars, and Michael K. Williams did a phenomenal job.
Michael K. Williams (Omar Little): Ninety-nine percent of Omar was on the page when I came to the table. The main thing I brought was that I needed for Omar to look and sound like a local. I didn’t want him to sound like a dude from Brooklyn.
Wendell Pierce: Michael is transformative. There’s a reason why people are so attracted to his character, because the depth of his work. Michael is the complete opposite of Omar, but he tapped into something that was brilliant.
Wendell Pierce: One day David came up to us when we shooting and said, “I’m writing a scene right now for you guys, and I want you to do the whole scene, but you can only say the word f–k.”
Domenic West: 44 f–ks? It’s about 20 too many. We even added some in post-production. It came out of something a cop had said to David once, and he thought that he could write an entire report only using the word f–k.
Michael Kostroff: Every season it was a battle with HBO to get the show back on the air. From what I heard, they threatened to cancel it every season.
John Doman: I understand Sopranos was their huge hit so they put a lot of money behind it, but they put very little behind The Wire. We were kind of an underground thing for a long time. I think because David and Ed are kind of outsiders – they’re not part of the Hollywood scene – that the show just kind of got ignored.
Chris Albrecht: The show stayed on because [then HBO president] Carolyn Strauss and I liked it. We’d make David wait. We’d agonize over the decision, and invariably David would write us a long, sometimes vitriolic, but always searingly intelligent letter. And we’d go, “Fuck it. Let’s do it.”
Andre Royo: It was crazy. We saw our audience get bigger and bigger, and then come the SAG awards, the Emmy Awards, the Golden Globes—nothing. We were like, “Well, what the f–k is going on?” And David Simon, he was so cool. He was like “F–k the awards, I’m not about that. I’m about telling a good story.” He was on interviews, like, “We don’t need that.” And some of us, in the back of our heads were like, “Yo, stop sayin’ we!”
Dennis Lehane (writer): The Wire didn’t really become The Wire until late in the fourth season. That’s when it became a different thing. You can feel this perception change. We were the sort of well-respected, sort of ugly cousin of The Sopranos. HBO was so supportive, and yet at the same time, at the end of the day, they were saying, “if you don’t get any love during season 4, we’re not sure we’re coming back for 5.” And then something really beautiful happened.
Wendell Pierce: The fourth season really had an effect on me. There was never an explanation of why we have this dysfunction in our society like you see in season four. What makes the corner boy? What makes one person go one direction and one person go the other?
There’s a lot more where that came from over at the Maxim article.