If you watched Sunday’s two-part premiere of HBO’s Show Me A Hero mini-series, you may have noticed a few familiar faces from The Wire like Michael Potts (best known for playing Brother Mouzone on The Wire, as well as one of the interrogating officers on True Detective‘s first season), Michael Kostroff (Maurice Levy), and Neal Huff (who played Mayor Carcetti’s chief of staff), and there are more on the way. Of course, the producer and co-writer of Show Me A Hero is David Simon, who created The Wire, Treme, and Generation Kill for HBO, utilizing many of the same faces from project to project. The thing is, this isn’t merely a David Simon habit — HBO’s shows (which are, of course, available to stream on HBO NOW) often seem to rely on alumni from other shows on the network. Why? Well, in some cases, it’s because the network forges long-lasting relationships with creators like Simon who prefer to work with people who have shown that they can work well with them, and it might also be that these are just really great actors who gravitate to good work. Either way, here’s a look at a few (not all — there are quite a few out there) notable HBO utility players.
Matt McCoy – True Detective, Silicon Valley, Carnivàle
McCoy most recently did double-duty, portraying disbarred attorney Pete Monahan in Silicon Valley and then yet another lawyer in True Detective‘s second season. He also had a recurring role as Councilman Ted Munson in the supernatural drama Carnivàle. His experience acting in HBO series is rivaled only by the number of bigfoot-themed projects he’s appeared in.
Michael K. Williams – Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, The Sopranos
The former dancer-turned-choreographer-turned-actor ended up playing two of the most notorious fan favorites on their respective programs. Williams embodied the roles of both stick-up artist Omar Little on The Wire and bootlegger Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire. He also had a brief role as the caretaker of Jackie, Jr. near the end of The Sopranos‘ third season.
Edie Falco – The Sopranos, Oz
Her performance as Carmela Soprano earned her multiple awards throughout the show’s six seasons, and Falco co-starred as Officer Diane Whittlesey on Oz. Though it’s not an HBO show, she also had a role as Eva Thormann on NBC’s Homicide: Life on The Street, which was based on a book by The Wire showrunner David Simon. Not bad for a performer who made ends meet working as a clown after completing the acting program at State University of New York at Purchase.
J.D. Williams – The Wire, The Sopranos, Oz, Sex and the City
While he’s continued to show up with recurring roles in network shows like The Following and The Good Wife, Williams will always be associated with Preston “Bodie” Broadus, the character he seemed to personify wholeheartedly for four seasons on The Wire. Prior to that, he made one-off appearances in The Sopranos as Special K, a truck hijacker, and Sex and the City as Sweet Sauce, and had a lengthy run on the prison drama Oz as Kenny “Bricks” Wangler.
Clarke Peters – The Wire, Treme, True Detective, The Corner, Show Me A Hero
Perhaps best known as Detective Lester Freamon on The Wire, Peters had notable roles in David Simon’s other HBO productions, Treme and The Corner, playing a New Orleans Indian Chief Albert Lambreaux and corner boy Fat Curt, respectively. He also had a brief role in the first season of True Detective, playing a minister who appeared to be tied into a larger conspiracy and is expected to appear in Show Me A Hero at some point.
Aidan Gillen – Game of Thrones, The Wire
Gillen plays Tommy Carcetti on The Wire, a councilman who, against all odds, manages to win Baltimore’s mayorship slowly before turning into a typical, conniving politician. Playing Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on Game of Thrones has allowed him to express his range with the latter, a conniving, backstabbing nobleman who’s slowly scheming his way through alliances to amass more and more power in Westeros.
Kevin Dunn – Veep, True Detective, Luck, The Second Civil War
The prolific actor, and brother of SNL alumni Nora Dunn, Dunn most recently appeared in the dark political satire, Veep, and made his first appearance in another dark political satire, 1997’s Joe Dante-directed HBO film, The Second Civil War, where he also played a staffer. In between, Dunn also had a recurring role as Major Quesada on True Detective‘s first season, as well as a co-starring role as Marcus on the racetrack drama, Luck.
Paul Ben-Victor – True Detective, Entourage, The Wire, John from Cincinnati, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Another actor known better for his face than his name, Ben-Victor has appeared in several dozen bit parts in film and TV over the years. Aside from one-off appearances in True Detective and Curb Your Enthusiasm, he had larger supporting roles in Entourage and John From Cincinnati, but he’s probably best known to TV viewers, perhaps, as Spiros, the high-ranking assistant to the gangster known only as “The Greek” on The Wire. He’s also set to appear in the upcoming Terence Winter rock n’ roll drama Vinyl, premiering next year.