It’s been over a decade since The Wire went off the air and yet the popularity of this HBO crime series continues to increase with each passing day. From academicians to television critics to fans of the show, viewers keep going to back to this classic David Simon masterpiece to dissect details and understand how the entire show came together so perfectly well.
From Baltimore’s drug epidemic to the city’s misguided police department and the corruption prevalent in media outlets, the show draws attention to issues concerning urban life. While fans know a lot about the series, there still are some facts about the show and the cast members that have remained relatively unknown. For instance, we bet not many of you know that the character of Felician ‘Snoop’ Pearson draws heavily from the life of the actor who played the role. Similarly, not many of you would know that The Wire directly or indirectly inspired the 2015 film Spotlight. this video, we tell you some shocking facts about HBO’s The Wire.
Ed Burns’ Experiences Served as Major Inspiration for the Show
David Simon worked with the Baltimore Sun for twelve years and wrote his Edgar Award-winning book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets during this time. In 1997, David collaborated with Ed Burns, a former Baltimore police detective for the Homicide and Narcotics division, on The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. The duo then worked together on The Wire and since then have delivered various hit shows, including Generation Kill and The Plot Against America.
David has often spoken about how he drew from his experiences to conceptualize the show. However, not a lot of people know that most of the characters and situations are by Ed Burns. In 2002, after the series premiered, David gave an interview to the Salon in which he mentioned that Ed spent a lot of time investigating drug traffickers and that helped him conceptualize various crucial parts of the show. However, while researching, the two stumbled upon the material on Enron and Catholic Church Sex scandal, which inspired them to revise what would have been a straight cop show into a show that explores the relationship between individuals and institutions.
David Simon Wanted to Cast John C. Reilly as Jimmy McNulty
The Wire owes a lot of its success to its incredible cast — the show featured some of the most talented faces on screen. Probably the most memorable of all The Wire characters is Jimmy McNulty, a detective in the Baltimore Police Department. The role plays by the English actor, musician and director Dominic West. He was so good on the show that most fans did not even realize that Dominic West was English.
However, as is always the case with the most memorable characters, Dominic wasn’t Simon’s original choice for the role. Simon actually wanted to rope in John C. Reilly as Jimmy. Simon had even called Rilley for the role, but the Gangs of New York actor did not show much interest in the series and then, Simon received Dominic’s auditioned tape and he was immediately convinced.
Wendell Pierce Got the Role of Bunk Moreland Because of a Tiff He Had Had with a Cab Driver That Day
Willian ‘The Bunk’ Moreland is another memorable character from The Wire. Many fans do not know that Simon and Ed based Bunk’s character on a retired Baltimore detective named Oscar ‘The Bunk’ Requer. Bunk is Jimmy’s best friend and a highly competent detective just like him. The character was portrayed by American actor Wendell Pierce. Funnily, it was Pierce’s angry encounter with a cab driver that got him the role.
In an interview, David Simone explained that when Pierce arrived for the audition, he was fuming because of an argument he had had with a cab driver that day. Therefore, when he started reading the lines, to Simon, Pierce looked like a bear who had hit a hornet’s nest. Pierce also realized that he wasn’t in the right state of mind for an audition and therefore, kept apologizing to David. However, to David, Pierce’s anger made him perfect for the part.
Felicia Pearson Took Inspiration from Her Own Life for Her On-Screen Character
Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson is a soldier in Marlo Stanfield’s drug organization and through the series’ final three seasons commits the most horrendous crimes. Fans remember her as one of the coldest but calm villains on television. In fact, Stephen King gave her the title of the most terrifying female villain on television in an Entertainment Weekly column.
Felicia’s name, as well as character, were inspired by the actress of the same name who played the role. Baltimore Sun did a profile on Felicia in which it revealed that the actress had grown up on the streets and had done jail time for second-degree murder during her teenage years for killing another teenager. Felicia met actor Michael K. Williams after coming out of jail and Michael invited Felicia to the sets of The Wire. Her story impressed the writers and producers of the show and they decided to give her a small part in the series. Her part was later expanded.
Enjoying these facts about The Wire? Well, your favourite show may have never seen the light of the day had David Simon not impressed HBO executives with his impressive pitch. We will tell you all about it in a while. So, stick around. Meanwhile, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel.
Tom Mccarthy Eventually Directed One of the Best Journalism Movies of All Time
Scott Templeton is one of the most hated characters from the show. Played by Tom McCarthy, Scott is an unethical Baltimore Sun journalist who cooks up stories and fills them with lies to make them interesting. We are certain that Tom learned a lot about journalism while on the sets of The Wire as the man eventually directed one of the best journalism movies of all time: Spotlight. Spotlight follows The Boston Globe, the oldest running newspaper in the country, as its team of reporters investigate child sex abuse allegations against Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area.
David Simon Received an Angry Call from the Then-Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley
Though The Wire had many fans, the show also attracted many fretters, one of whom was the then-Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley. Malley was pissed with David Simon and was of the opinion that the show portrayed Baltimore in a bad light. Malley wanted Simon to include good things about the city and especially highlight through the show the work that Malley had done as the city’s Mayor. He, therefore, made an angry call to Simon and made his stance clear. When Simon did not entertain Malley’s idea, the Mayor made it clear that Simon should look for another city to produce the rest of the show.
Thankfully, the then-director of Baltimore’s film and television division was more understanding and realized what the show meant to the city. However, she too was of the opinion that the show must also include some good things about Baltimore. Funnily, David Simon converted Malley’s phone call into a Baltimore Magazine piece. Imagine the Mayor’s anger!
Season 2 of the Show Didn’t Just Surprise Audiences but Also Cast Members
To many, The Wire was a cop-show about the drug trade in Baltimore when in reality, it was a show that focussed on showing and explaining to viewers how every aspect of life is interconnected in an urban city like Baltimore.
The first season of the show focussed on the Barksdale drug trafficking Organization and introduced the viewers to Avon Barksdale, the head of the Barksdale drug trafficking organization and the most powerful drug lord in Baltimore, and the Major Crimes Unit set up by the Baltimore Police Department to nail the drug kingpin.
However, season 2 of the show abruptly moved from drug organizations and heroin trade to union and dock workers. This move did not only leave the audiences baffled but also confused the show’s cast members, including Michael K. Williams, who played Omar Little, a Baltimore man who frequently robs drug dealers. Obviously, Michael was quite upset and he even made it clear to David Simon.
Ed Burns Used His Experience and Time with Baltimore Public School System to Conceptualize Season 4
Season 4 of The Wire was arguably the best season of the series and the credit for it goes to Ed Burns. Ed Burns used his experience with the Baltimore public school system to conceptualize season 4 of the show. Not many people know that after quitting the Baltimore Police Department, Burns worked as a teacher in the Baltimore public school system.
After the season 4 premiered, Burns did an interview with NPR in which explained his view of the flawed public school system that exists in Baltimore as well as other large metropolitan cities. He explained that the school system was designed in such a way that it unknowingly prepared the students for life on the streets. According to Burns, when students argue with teachers, they are sent to time-out rooms. These kids eventually hit the streets and many of them either commit murders or become victims of murder.
Simon’s Response to the U.S. Attorney General’s Request for Another Season Was Epic
After the show ended in 2008, many, many people requested Simon to create another season. Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General under the Obama Administration, also requested David and Burns to create another season, though his request was more of a jibe than an earnest appeal. In response to Holder’s request, Simon replied that he and Simon would love to do another season if the Attorney-General reconsiders his prosecution of their ‘destructive and dehumanizing drug prohibition.’ Basically, Simon very politely reminded the Attorney-General to stop making jokes and do his job.
Convincing HBO Wasn’t Easy but David Simon Managed
Though HBO had produced hit crime-based series, including The Sopranos and Oz, in the past the network wasn’t known for cop-based shows until 2002. Consequentially, David Simon knew that convincing HBO executives wouldn’t be easy. The man, therefore, worked on creating a very compelling pitch.
In 2006, Entertainment Weekly did a piece on The Wire and as part of the profile, the magazine spoke to Carolyn Strauss, the former President of HBO Entertainment about how David convinced the team and the network to agree to the show. Carolyn shared that instead of focussing solely on why the show would be a hit, David also delivered a very compelling pitch about how HBO should do a cop show to compete with big networks and beat them at their own game.
We hope you enjoyed these shocking facts about HBO’s The Wire. Did you learn something new about your favourite show or were you already aware of all of these facts? Is there something you would like to add to the list? If yes, please leave your comments below.
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