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7 Things Revealed At "The Wire" Reunion

The cast of HBO’s critically beloved show gathered for a reunion as part of the 2nd Annual Paley Festival in New York. Sorry, Stringer and McNulty fans: Idris Elba and Dominic West missed it, but sent videos.

Posted on October 16, 2014, at 11:02 p.m. ET


The cast and the behind-the-scenes team of The Wire gathered in New York City on Oct. 16 to talk through the five-year run of the critically acclaimed series. It never won any Emmys — much to the disappointment of fans — and didn't score huge ratings, but since it went off the air in 2008, the love affair with the Baltimore-set drama continues. The series' fandom has outlived even some of its biggest and most gripping characters — we're looking at you Idris Elba (who played drug lord Stringer Bell) and Michael Kenneth Williams (who played stick-up artist Omar, a cult figure in his own right).

At the PaleyFest event, cast members Wendell Pierce, Sonja Sohn, Seth Gilliam, Jim True-Frost, John Doman, Tristan Wilds, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., and Jamie Hector, joined series creator David Simon and executive producer Nina Noble. And they spilled the goods.

1. Nearly every character got an off-screen memorial service.


Sonja Sohn's Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs wasn't supposed to live past Episode 6 of the first season — something she wasn't too happy about when she learned it from a woman who played one of her on-screen love interests. Sohn confronted creator David Simon about her character being killed off. He then shared with her that if she died, it'd be a great story arc. Then Simon shared with her that one of the HBO higher-ups loved her portrayal and wanted to keep Sohn around. So Kima lived.

Moving forward, Sohn would organize the cast every time someone was about to be killed off and most of them would gather while the actor shot their last scene. It was one of the many bonding sessions in which the sprawling cast would partake.

2. Major William Rawls was gay. Perhaps.


Or maybe he just had an affinity for hanging out in gay bars. John Doman says that most fans didn't notice, but he shot a scene at a gay bar.

"Most people probably didn't notice Rawls in the gay bar," he said. "But for those who did notice... that is a question I get asked. They'll say, 'What about that scene in the gay bar? What was that all about?!' I think people have to decide if they think Rawls was actually gay or if he was just hanging out on some police business."

3. The actors took one look at the pilot and thought it was horrible. Everyone called their agents for new work.


Wendell Pierce told a story of the cast gathered in a production office to watch the first episode, and didn't exactly have the reaction that producers hoped they would.

"We were like, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "I told my agent to call Law & Order!"

Added Sohn: "A lot of us were like, 'I don't know, it's kind of slow.'"

4. Michael Kenneth Williams may have channeled his inner Omar to scare creator David Simon.


Williams, who portrayed the menacing — but moral code-laden — drug dealer Omar Little, said he was a bit pissed when he learned that the second season of the show wasn't going to center around his character.

"I'd never had this much responsibility as an actor," he said. "I was really psyched. I was hooked. I went down to Baltimore, fell in love with the city and I fell in love with the cast, the writing. I was ready for the second season. I was like, 'Where does the storyline go?' And I got introduced to the mind of David Simon! And he took it to the docks. And I got real bitter. I was an angry black man. And I approached David, and I was like, How come we make the show hot, and you give it to the white people? He looked at me with patience in his eyes and he said, 'Trust me, if we go right back to the projects, we're going to make the story that we're building here way too small.' That went way over my fucking head. It wasn't until Season 3 that things started to click."

5. Because the ratings were so low, the cast never felt pressure.


"There was so little expectation. I remember our early numbers came in," said Simon, "and [an HBO executive] said, 'Oh. It's a cute little number. Don't worry about the number.'"

6. Sorry, Idris. The biggest star on the show was actually the city of Baltimore.


"Although you have your favorite characters... the main character is Baltimore," said Tristan Wilds. "It's not any of us. It's the social and urban decay of America. That's what the main character is: the docks, or the newspaper, or the streets, or the schools — we show the different facets of how the decay actually happens, when it happens and how long it goes on."

7. There was going to be a spin-off of The Wire, but HBO pulled the plug on it.


“We were actually trying to spin off the city hall show and do a political show,” creator Simon told BuzzFeed News. “We wrote a bunch of scripts that would spin off after Season 3 of The Wire. But HBO said, "No, we only want one show that nobody is watching in Baltimore, not two!’” The show would have followed the political career of the fictional Baltimore mayor Tommy Carcetti (Aidan Gillen, who now plays Littlefinger on Game of Thrones).

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    Kelley Carter is a senior entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Carter writes about and reports on films and television shows popular with black audiences.

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.