15 years ago this month, HBO debuted The Wire, a multi-perspective look at crime, law enforcement, poverty, government, education, and journalism in Baltimore, Maryland. Boasting a large, diverse, and immensely talented cast, it’s no surprise that most of the actors have gone on to be a part of other landmark TV shows and films (and also, approximately 300 Law & Order episodes as lawyers, cops, and crooks). As we celebrate the show (which is available to stream anytime on HBO Now) and recall all it did to advance television drama, it made sense to look at what the cast from The Wire has been up to lately.
Dominic West – Jimmy McNulty
The English-born actor played the hard-drinking detective James “Jimmy” McNulty and gave the show the closest thing it had to a main character. Since being stripped of his badge in the series finale, Dominic West continues to work steadily in U.S. and English productions, including the role of Sab Than in 2012’s ambitious Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation John Carter, and as Jigsaw in Punisher: War Zone. His biggest post-Wire role was as Noah Holloway in Showtime’s acclaimed series The Affair, which was just renewed for a fourth season. He’s currently filming the Tomb Raider reboot, playing Lara’s father, Lord Richard Croft, due out in 2018.
Off camera, West remains very involved in theater, starring in a number of productions at the Donmar Theater in London, as well as The Crucible Theater in Sheffield. He’s also been a big supporter of charities, including Helen’s Trust, which helps those with terminal diseases stay in their own homes. In 2013, he led Team Canada/Australia on a trek to the South Pole for Walking For The Wounded as part of a fundraising event for veterans wounded in service.
Wendell Pierce – ‘Bunk’ Moreland
Playing the murder police “of means and talent,” Wendell Pierce embodied the sharp-dressed, cigar-chomping Lieutenant “Bunk” Moreland. After The Wire, the actor kept himself busy with small roles before re-teaming with The Wire creator David Simon for Treme, a post-Katrina drama set in Pierce’s hometown of New Orleans. He’s gone on to recurring roles in Ray Donovan, Suits, and CBS’s recently canceled reboot of The Odd Couple. He also loaned his voice to the character of Verl in the recent season of Archer: Dreamland.
In addition to acting, Pierce is an active philanthropist and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People In Business by Fast Company back in 2013. Among his endeavors, he’s started the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation, which helps build geothermal and solar-powered homes to those displaced by Katrina, and Sterling Farms, which works to create access to fresh food in America’s inner-city “food deserts.”
Idris Elba – Stringer Bell
While he was already a reputable actor by the time he starred as the terrifying Stringer Bell, Idris Elba has had nothing but star-making roles ever since his arc on The Wire wrapped up near the end of the third season. After making appearances in movies like RockNRolla and 28 Weeks Later, he landed another recurring role as CFO Charles Miner on NBC’s The Office, as well as Detective John Luther in the BBC’s riveting detective drama Luther. Back on the big screen, he helped cancel the Apocalypse in Pacific Rim, played Nelson Mandela in the biopic Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, was the big bad in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and scored the role of Norse God Heimdell in the MCU, whose fourth appearance is slated for this fall’s Thor: Ragnarok. Most recently, Elba got into a mock Twitter feud with Matthew McConaughey to promote their long-awaited Stephen King adaptation of The Dark Tower.
Elba’s talents transcend screens, though. He’s also an accomplished hip-hop DJ, releasing his first EP Big Man back in 2006, and he opened for Madonna during her Rebel Heart tour in Berlin in 2015. He was appointed the anti-crime ambassador for The Prince’s Trust charity in 2009, an organization that Elba credits with helping him launch his acting career. If that weren’t enough, he broke a land-speed record as part of the Discovery Channel’s series Idris Elba: No Limits.
Michael K. Williams – Omar Little
Perhaps the most revered character in The Wire’s history, Michael K. Williams absolutely owned the role of the whistling inner city Robin Hood Omar Little. Years later, he made an equally memorable impression on another HBO series, Boardwalk Empire as the sharp-dressed bootlegger Chalky White
Williams has been prolific in his work on TV beyond those shows. He popped up as Professor Marshall Kane on former NBC fan-favorite Community and is currently starring as Leonard in Sundance TV’s acclaimed Hap and Leonard, based on the novels by Joe R. Lansdale. Recent projects include supporting roles in HBO’s The Night Of and ABC’s miniseries When We Rise. He also hosts the Vice series Black Market, which explores not only the markets themselves but how people get involved in the first place.
Williams is set to join the Star Wars universe with an appearance in the upcoming Han Solo prequel.
Sonja Sohn – Lt. ‘Kima’ Greggs
As The Wire’s most prominent female character, Sonja Sohn played Lt. Shakima ‘Kima’ Greggs character with a signature, no-nonsense panache. Sohn has maintained a bust acting career, including appearances on Body of Proof, Burn Notice, and most recently Netflix’s Luke Cage.
Her work on The Wire inspired her to found reWIRED For Change, an activist group dedicated to reaching out and (if need be) rehabilitating young people involved in criminal activity. In addition to using The Wire as a teaching tool, several of her former co-stars serve on the board. In addition to campaigning on behalf of then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, she was named Woman of the Year by the Harvard Black Men’s forum in 2011.
Andre Royo – ‘Bubbles’
One of the few characters on The Wire to be granted a happy ending, Andre Royo has gone on to appear as Thirsty Rawlings on Empire and as Robert ‘Bobo’ Boston on Amazon’s Hand Of God. This in addition to several guest spots and supporting performances. On the big screen, Royo won the Special Jury Award at SXSW 2016 for his work in Hunter Gatherer.
Lance Reddick – Lt. Daniels
After owning the part of no-nonsense Lt. Daniels, who appeared in more episodes than any other character on The Wire, Lance Reddick continued to bring his stern gravitas to shows like Lost, Fringe, and American Horror Story. On the big screen, he played Charon, the hotel manager, in John Wick and even saw his role expanded a bit for John Wick: Chapter 2.
He currently stars as Irvin Irving on Amazon’s hit detective series Bosch, and even dabbled in video game voice-work, playing Commander Zavala in 2014’s Destiny, and Sylens in PS4’s Horizons: Zero Dawn earlier this year.
Clarke Peters – Det. Lester Freamon
Another Wire alum who went on to appear in David Simon’s Treme, Clarke Peters starred in Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer and has also held several recurring roles in Damages and Person of Interest, along with a bit part in the first John Wick movie. He co-starred as Detective Oscar Clemons in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and as Ralph Coates in Jericho.
[Correction: Peters starred in ITV’s 2016 Jericho series, not the unaffiliated post-apocalyptic US series from 2006.]
Peters has also done a fair amount of theater, both in the U.S. and the U.K., appearing as the title character in Othello at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre opposite his former Wire co-star Dominic West, who played the role of Iago.
Dierdre Lovejoy – Rhonda Pearlman
As Assistant States’ Attorney, Rhonda Pearlman lived through the frustrations that came from being a close witness to the complications that challenged the efficiency and fairness of the legal system throughout the five seasons of The Wire. Since then, actor Dierdre Lovejoy played multiple roles in both Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in addition to playing minor characters legal dramas such as Bones, Criminal Minds, and Body of Proof.
She had a briefly recurring role in the Netflix smash hit Orange is the New Black, and has done some work on Broadway, appearing opposite Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy back in 2013. She most recently played Cynthia Panabaker in NBC’s The Blacklist.
Seth Gilliam – Sgt. Carver
After making waves in the western district as Sergeant Carver, Seth Gilliam followed a familiar path for Wire alumni, jumping to The Walking Dead (same as Chad Colman and Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), where he survived the first battle of the war against The Saviors in the seventh season finale, and is slated to appear in the show’s upcoming eighth season. Gilliam has also starred in MTV’s Teen Wolf reboot.
Aidan Gillen – Tommy Carcetti
When Aiden Gillen joined the cast of The Wire in season three as the idealist-turned-sellout politician Tommy Carcetti, he was already known for playing Stuart Jones in Channel 4’s Queer As Folk. Afterward, he showed up in a small but noteworthy role in The Dark Knight Rises and recently co-starred in Guy Ritchie’s Arthur re-telling, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. But who are we kidding? Gillen’s most notable role is Petyr Baelish — better known as Littlefinger — the brothel-owning schemer with a thirst for power on Game of Thrones.
Jamie Hector – Marlo Stanfield
One of The Wire’s most terrifying villains — who managed to get away, no less — Jamie Hector has worked steadily with recurring roles in Heroes and The Strain. He’s currently co-starring in Amazon’s cop drama Bosch, along with fellow Wire co-star Lance Reddick.
Felicia Pearson – Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson
Born in Baltimore to two incarcerated parents who she barely met, Felicia Pearson got a part on The Wire after Michael K. Williams invited her to the set after meeting her in a club. After talking to the show’s production staff, she was offered a part on the show. Since then, she’s appeared in videos for Rick Ross, Little Mo, and Ace Hood, as well as Spike Lee’s film, Chi-Raq.
Pearson has volunteered her time as a prison visitor and worked on anti-violence and literary campaigns, as well as been an active supporter of the Stay Strong Foundation. In 2011 she was arrested for conspiracy to sell heroin along with 60 other people. After pleading guilty, she ended up with three years supervised probation. The whole incident prompted The Wire showrunner David Simon to speak out about the state of race and mobility in modern-day America.
Pablo Schreiber – Nick Sobotka
The half-brother of actor Liev Schreiber, Canadian-born actor Pablo Schreiber played the closest thing to a moral center in The Wire’s dockworker-focused second season. He was also seen briefly in the show’s sprawling series finale. Since then, Schreiber has appeared on TV shows like Weeds and Lights Out. He’s most recognizable for his work as prison guard George “Pornstache” Mendez on Netflix’s acclaimed prison drama Orange Is The New Black, but his run starring as leprechaun Mad Sweeney on Starz’ visionary series American Gods could change that up, eventually.
Michael B. Jordan – Wallace
As the young corner boy Wallace, Michael B. Jordan’s gut-wrenching performance showed the harsh reality that these characters inhabit at the end of the first season when he met his end. Moving on from the streets of Baltimore, Jordan headed to Texas and featured prominently on Friday Night Lights before showing up on showrunner Jason Katims’ followup, Parenthood. Jordan has also done some video game work, most notably in a starring role in the NBA2K 17 story mode as hoop hopeful Justice Young.
Besides that, Jordan’s talents are pretty much exclusive to the big screen now, where he played Johnny Storm in director Josh Trank’s 2015 Fantastic Four reboot after co-starring in Trank’s breakout non-comic book superpower film Chronicle. More notable roles include his acclaimed performance in the powerful Fruitvale Station, where he first partnered with now frequent collaborator Ryan Coogler, and the re-energized Rocky franchise, where he played Adonis Johnson in Creed (which Coogler co-wrote and directed). He’s set to return to the Marvel Universe, this time as Erik Killmonger in 2018’s highly anticipated The Black Panther (another Coogler project).
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. – State Senator Clay Davis
Since coining The Wire’s most noteworthy catchphrase, Isiah Whitlock Jr. has made a number of guest appearances on TV and taken on several supporting roles in films. Most notably, he co-starred beside Ed Helms in the indie-comedy Cedar Rapids and appeared as George Maddox in HBO’s political comedy Veep. He’s currently set to co-star in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist.
Whitlock was the commencement speaker at SMSU in 1999, and the school now offers a scholarship in his name. He also used his famous catchphrase to launch the most successful bobblehead Kickstarter campaign of all time, raising more than $100,000 from over 1,800 backers.