How The Wire stars’ lives turned out to be JUST as dramatic as the series
Widely considered one of the greatest TV series ever, HBO’s The Wire is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
Over five seasons, the classic crime drama explored the wide-ranging impact of the war on drugs on the crack-infested streets of Baltimore, Maryland.
Written by David Simon, a former police reporter for The Baltimore Sun, the show was praised for its gritty realism and much of it was filmed on location around some of the roughest parts of the city.
Though it never won an Emmy, The Wire has been referred to across the critical board as the greatest television series of all time, only recently rivaled by AMC’s Breaking Bad.
Each season introduced a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In chronological order they were: the illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media.
It also launched the careers of actors including Idris Elba, Dominic West and Michael K. Williams, who sadly died from an accidental drug overdose in his Brooklyn penthouse on September 6 last year, leaving the showbiz world reeling.
Elsewhere, married Dominic was embroiled in a scandal after kissing his The Pursuit of Love co-star Lily James in Rome in 2020, while other stars of the show have unfortunately suffered through addictions.
Here, FEMAIL reveals the varying fortunes of The Wire cast…
Dominic West, 52, portrayed troubled detective Jimmy McNulty (pictured left) in the crime show throughout all five seasons. Pictured right, Dominic in March 2022
His 12-year marriage to Catherine Fitzgerald hung by a thread after he was pictured passionately kissing actress Lily James, 33, in October 2020 (pictured together)
Dominic and Catherine (pictured together) married in June 2010 after reuniting following their university romance and have four children together
Dominic West, 52, portrayed troubled detective Jimmy McNulty in the crime show throughout all five seasons.
Since his role, he has played murderer Fred West in 2011 ITV drama Appropriate Adult and starred in Sky programme The Affair from 2014 to 2018.
He is currently filming series five of The Crown as he takes on the role of Prince Charles in the popular Netflix show.
Alongside his glittering TV career, he’s also featured in a host of films including 2022’s Downton Abbey: A New Era.
His 12-year marriage to Catherine Fitzgerald hung by a thread after he was pictured passionately kissing actress Lily James, 33, in October 2020.
Dominic and Catherine married in June 2010 after reuniting following their university romance and have four children together; Dora, 13, Senan, 12, Francis, 11, and Christabel, seven.
The actor also has another daughter Martha, 21, with former girlfriend aristocrat Polly Astor.
The married couple claimed in a handwritten note left outside their Wiltshire home: ‘Our marriage is strong and we’re very much still together. Thank you,’ following the Lily James scandal.
Their marriage faced public scrutiny after Dominic was pictured kissing his The Pursuit of Love co-star Lily in Rome in 2020.
The pair also rode together on an electric scooter the same week it was confirmed Lily and ex-boyfriend, The Crown actor Matt Smith, 38, had parted ways.
While Lily hasn’t publicly addressed the nature of her former relationship with Dominic yet, she said in an interview this month ‘there is a lot to say.’
When asked about Dominic, she replied: ‘I’m not really willing to talk about that. There is a lot to say, but not now, I’m afraid.’
John Doman starred as hardman superintendent Bill Rawls on the programme. Pictured right, John in 2016
John Doman starred as hardman superintendent Bill Rawls on the programme.
Following his role in the series, he featured in Sky hit drama Borgia and reunited with co-star Dominic West on The Affair, playing Bruce Butler.
The ER alum also portrayed attorney general John Mitchell in the Golden Globe-winning film The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Doman has also enjoyed roles on Gotham, Madam Secretary, House of Cards, and Damages.
He told Indie Wire: ‘I can be in the middle of a bazaar and someone will come up and start talking to me in a language I don’t know, but I’ll recognize “The Wire!’ ‘The Wire!” every time.’
The Philadelphia native was married to Linda Lee Rudloff from 1981 until her death in 2014. He later tied the knot with Elizabeth Donnelly in 2019.
Wendell Pierce (pictured right in 2020) starred as Baltimore detective Bunk Moreland, who was a friend of West’s character, in The Wire
He is now equally well-known for his role in the long-running lawyer series Suits, playing Robert Zane, the father of Rachel Zane, who was played by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex (pictured together)
Wendell Pierce starred as Baltimore detective Bunk Moreland, who was a friend of West’s character, in The Wire.
He is now equally well-known for his role in the long-running lawyer series Suits, playing Robert Zane, the father of Rachel Zane, who was played by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.
He also reunited with The Wire co-creator David Simon for Treme, which aired on HBO from 2010 to 2013.
In 2012, Piece featured on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning play Clybourne Park and he has also featured in films such as Horrible Bosses, Selma and Bad Moms during his successful TV and movie career.
Pierce, who is originally from New Orleans, previously shared his support for Meghan and said Ms Markle’s mother would have prepared her for ‘the ugly side of human nature like any woman of colour would teach their child.’
Speaking to Susanna Reid on GMB about the struggles of being in the spotlight in 2020, he urged that ‘millions care for her’ and revealed that in the last moment he had with the Duchess of Sussex, he told her: ‘Life is going to be very different.’
Discussing the backlash the Duchess received following an ITV interview in which she told Tom Bradby she was ‘not okay’, the actor added: ‘In those tough times just remember you have a lot of people who care about you.
‘And that you know, protocol, we’re probably not going to be in touch with each other as much as you think but just know you have a friend in me and that there will be a lot of people who care about you.’
Pierce also spoke about the Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, as a woman who would have prepared to deal with difficult moments in life.
He said: ‘I’m sure that her mother raised her well, so prepared her for the ugly side of human nature like any women of colour would teach their child, just like my parents taught me.
‘There are going to be people out there who do not have your best interest at heart but those are not the people you focus on, you focus away from them.’
Ending on an upbeat note, he joked that he would always be there to offer his support and said: ‘I’m her TV dad!’
Sonja Sohn (right in 2019), 57, played drugs detective Shakima ‘Kima’ Greggs, who studies law on the side, during all five seasons of The Wire
Sonja Sohn, 57, played drugs detective Shakima ‘Kima’ Greggs, who studies law on the side, during all five seasons of The Wire.
Her character constantly outsmarted McNulty and made him question his disdain for women in the police force.
She previously told NPR that playing an officer proved difficult for her at first, due to the behaviour she’d seen growing up.
‘My own perception of cops was that they came into your neighbourhood, they roughed up people that you loved for no reason and took them away,’ Sohn said. ‘So I had to overcome all of that to play this cop.’
Following her appearance on the series, she’s had roles in Burn Notice, The Good Wife, and The Chi.
She also launch ReWired for Change, a non-profit that helps young parolees improve their lives after being released from prison.
The Wire creator David Simon serves as an honorary chairman of the organisation, while Wendell Pierce and Michael K. Williams each had a seat on the board.
But in 2019, Sohn was arrested in North Carolina in connection with cocaine possession.
The actress, according to TMZ, was also cited for having marijuana and drug paraphernalia on her person in the arrest.
Sohn was bailed out on $1,500 bail six minutes after she was taken into police custody, according to the outlet.
Seth Gilliam (right in 2019) played disillusioned cop Ellis Carver over the course of The Wire – but he almost left the programme after feeling his character was underappreciated
Since 2014, the New York City native starred as Father Gabriel Stokes on AMC’s The Walking Dead, which featured several The Wire actors during its seasons
Seth Gilliam played disillusioned cop Ellis Carver over the course of The Wire – but he almost left the programme after feeling his character was underappreciated.
‘At some point, I was like, “Is there even film in those cameras?”‘ he told IndieWire. ‘You sign some guys and then sit ’em on the bench?”‘
However, thankfully, Carver eventually went on to have one of the show’s many interesting character arcs.
Since 2014, the New York City native starred as Father Gabriel Stokes on AMC’s The Walking Dead, which featured several The Wire actors during its seasons.
Gilliam’s character Gabriel has developed since being introduced in season five of the zombie apocalypse drama as a timid local priest unable to defend himself.
In 2021, the actor detailed how he’s even been sent death threats over his character’s storyline.
‘Over the years, what’s been surreal to me is sometimes people not being able to see fiction from reality, and assuming I was Father Gabriel and not Seth Gilliam,’ he told Digital Spy.
‘When they question the choices the character made on the show, and started to send me death threats and stuff. That was surreal.’
Meanwhile, Gilliam has also featured in Damages, Nurse Jackie, Homeland and played supernatural specialist Deaton in Teen Wolf.
In 2015, Gilliam was reportedly arrested for marijuana possession and a DUI. After he was pulled over for travelling at 107mph in a 55mph zone, he admitted that he had drank ‘three beers and a shot’, according to TMZ.
A subsequent police search of his car reportedly produced a marijuana cigarette from a cigarette box.
Irish actor Aiden Gillen (right in 2022) starred as Baltimore politician Tommy Carcetti, who started his career on the city council, in The Wire
Gillen has gone on to star in the BBC’s Birmingham-based drama Peaky Blinders, as well as play the role of Littlefinger in Game of Thrones (pictured)
Irish actor Aiden Gillen starred as Baltimore politician Tommy Carcetti, who started his career on the city council, in The Wire.
He had already built his acting reputation featuring in the 1999 series Queer as Folk, created by Russell T Davies for Channel 4, before joining the ‘show of a lifetime’.
By the time he joined The Wire, the cult show was finally picking up critical acclaim, though he revealed filming was tinged with the sadness of his father’s illness and death.
‘My time in Baltimore, a city I grew to love quickly, and spent a couple of years in, will forever be spliced with my father’s last year,’ he told Independent.ie.
‘Mostly because I was there for a lot of it, walking along the waterfront, learning lines and worrying about him, as much as you can.’
In 2011, Gillen told Den of Geek: ‘It was definitely the show of a lifetime to be in… People have gone on about it so much, but it does live up to its reputation, thankfully.
‘And I loved the part, but I don’t think it’s the role of my lifetime, no. I was part of an ensemble, and happy with that, but I’ve played more involved roles, and expect to in the future.’
Gillen has gone on to star in the BBC’s Birmingham-based drama Peaky Blinders, as well as play the role of Littlefinger in Game of Thrones.
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams (right in 2021) was best known for his role in The Wire, playing the shotgun-wielding vigilante, Omar Little throughout the series
Michael K. Williams poses for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021, in Miami
Michael K. Williams was best known for his role in The Wire, playing the gay, shotgun-wielding vigilante, Omar Little throughout the series.
He also won praise playing Albert (Chalky) White in the hit HBO show Boardwalk Empire, and for his role in the 2020 drama, Lovecraft Country, which saw him nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Williams, 54, was pronounced dead in his Brooklyn penthouse on September 6 last year leaving the showbiz world reeling.
Four men were arrested in connection with Williams’ death in February. Hector Robles, Luis Cruz, Carlos Macci and Irvin Cartagena were each charged with narcotics conspiracy for distributing the fentanyl-laced heroin that is believed to have killed the TV star.
Surveillance video released by investigators appeared to show Cartagena handing Williams the deadly drugs one day before the star’s body was found.
Williams was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and spent his childhood in the projects surrounded by drugs and violence.
As a young boy, he was sexually molested. He told The New York Times that that experience left him confused about his own sexuality and caused him to be withdrawn.
On the eve of his 25th birthday, in 1991, Williams attempted to intervene when a group of muggers jumped one of his friends. One of the assailants pulled out a knife and slashed him, leaving him with a long, distinctive scar down the front of his face and neck.
Williams eventually enrolled in New York City’s National Black Theatre, and kickstarted his career as a dancer, scoring parts in music videos by Madonna and George Michael.
Williams made his film debut in 1996, appearing alongside Tupac Shakur in the film Bullet.
Three years later, he played a drug dealer in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead. He also landed a brief cameo in the HBO hit show The Sopranos.
However, in 2002, he landed the definitive role for his career, playing Omar Little in The Wire.
Williams was open about his struggles with drug addiction. Since the age of 19, he went in and out of clinics to seek treatment.
During his years filming The Wire, Williams relapsed. In 2005, he entered a church in New Jersey seeking help with his drug problem.
Despite his ongoing drug struggles, Williams enjoyed continued success following the conclusion of The Wire.
From 2010 to 2014, he played Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire. He also appeared in films including 12 Years A Slave, Inherent Vice, and Motherless Brooklyn.
In 2019, he returned to the small screen, starring in the Netflix miniseries When They See Us, which earned him another Emmy nod.
Last year, he played Montrose Freeman in the HBO series Lovecraft Country. He also featured in an episode of the late Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel Show, No Reservations.
A-lister Idris Elba (right in 2022), who was once rumoured to be next in line to play James Bond, played intellectual Baltimore drug dealer Stringer Bell in the show for two years
The London-born actor (pictured in The Wire), 48, is most notably known for his role as detective Luther in the eponymous drama, which ran for five series from 2010
A-lister Idris Elba, who was once rumoured to be next in line to play James Bond, played intellectual Baltimore drug dealer Stringer Bell in the show for two years.
The London-born actor, 48, is most notably known for his role as detective Luther in the eponymous drama, which ran for five series from 2010.
He’s also took the big screen by storm, featuring in films such as Thor, The Suicide Squad and Pacific Rim.
More recently, he’s appeared in Cats (2019), which divided opinion, as well as having lent his voice to Zootropolis and The Jungle Book.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2019 about the Bond rumours, Elba conceded he was not in the running to become the first black Bond in the franchise’s 59 year history.
He said: ‘Of course, if someone said to me “Do you want to play James Bond?”, I’d be like, Yeah! That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, “Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.”‘
Reflecting on the debate regarding Bond’s ethnicity, he added: ‘You just get disheartened when you get people from a generational point of view going, “It can’t be.”
‘And it really turns out to be the colour of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the colour of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.’
Andre Royo (right in 2022) worked steadily in Hollywood for years before taking on his breakout role of Reginald ‘Bubbles’ Cousins on The Wire
Andre Royo worked steadily in Hollywood for years before taking on his breakout role of Reginald ‘Bubbles’ Cousins on The Wire.
But at the start, he admitted to having worries about the character – insisting to creators and producers that he refused to play another clichéd black drug addict.
Recalling their reaction, he told Slate: ‘They just looked at me and were like, “Oh, you don’t know how we get down.”‘
The actor, from New York, previously revealed to The Sun that he was shot at and given free heroin by drug dealers while filming the crime show.
He said: ‘We were shooting on location, there were no sets, so we were going into places where drug dealers make £10,000 a day and trying to tell them that you were shooting for 18 hours and they can’t cross the street.
‘They’d tell us we have two hours because you’re messing my money up. They said “who the f*** are you”, it wasn’t like we had Denzel Washington on set. Nobody knew us.’
However, he also told Slate in 20 13, that playing the role had a tough impact as he sought help for his own addictions after starring as a drug addict.
By the third season, he admitted he was ‘depressed’ and ‘drinking’ heavily before seeking help.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘It’s a hard journey, this acting thing. There’s peaks and valleys in this business so when you land on a show like this and you know that there’s a lot of eyes on you, it just motivates people to keep going.’
More recently, he has featured as defence attorney Thirsty Rawlings on the FOX drama series Empire and given his voice to the cartoon Bob’s Burgers.
Lance Reddick (right in 2020), a musician, actor and producer from Baltimore, played Cedric Daniels, who supervised the police department
Professionally, he has been highly prolific since finishing work on the hit TV show (pictured)
Lance Reddick, a musician, actor and producer from Baltimore, played Cedric Daniels, who supervised the police department.
Professionally, he has been highly prolific since finishing work on the hit TV show.
However, while the actor has racked up a significant number of appearances in big productions, he continues to be best known for his work on The Wire.
Reddick has gone on to appear in numerous other series, including Resident Evil, Paradise PD, The Blacklist, Fringe, Bosch, and Lost.
Additionally, he has made multiple big screen appearances, acting in films including Godzilla vs. Kong, White House Down, Jonah Hex, and John Wick.
Reddick will be seen on the big screen once again when he reprises his role as Charon in John Wick: Chapter 4.
The Baltimore actor has also made his mark in the world of computer games, appearing in the Destiny franchise and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand among others.
His romantic life has been less tumultuous than some of the other cast members, after divorcing his first wife Suzanne Yvonne Louis, who he wed in 1986, Reddick married Stephanie Day, who he is still with now, in 2011.
Texas native Deirdre Lovejoy (pictured right in 2013) played Rhonda Pearlman in The Wire
Texas native Deirdre Lovejoy played Rhonda Pearlman in The Wire.
Her character was the assistant district attorney, who served as the legal liaison for the the police department.
Since her pivotal role in the US drama, she has gone on to play a range of different roles, on both the small and big screens.
Among her TV credits are Netflix original show Orange Is the New Black. She has also appeared in shows including American Horror Story: Asylum, Bones, and Girls.
Meanwhile, she has acted in movies including The Post and Bad Teacher.
While her acting career has been prolific, like many of the shows other stars, she remains best known to many for her work on The Wire.
Domenick Lombardozzi (right in 2019), who was born in New York City, played Thomas ‘Herc’ Hauk in the show
Domenick Lombardozzi, who was born in New York City, played Thomas ‘Herc’ Hauk in the show.
Since the programme wrapped, he has racked up some impressive credits, notably appearing in Martin Scorsese’s 2019 crime epic The Irishman.
Other big screen appearances include a part in The King of Staten Island.
The Wire isn’t the only classic television drama the actor consolidated his chops on.
Lombardozzi also performed in Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s big budget Atlantic City drama, which was set in 1920s prohibition America.
The Italian American actor played the role of bootlegger Ralph Capone, the older brother of Al Capone.
His upcoming work includes Armageddon Time, a film in which he acts alongside Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway.
Stage, television and screen actor Jim True-Frost (right in 2017) played the role of Detective Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski in all five seasons of The Wire
Stage, television and screen actor Jim True-Frost played the role of Detective Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski in all five seasons of The Wire.
Since then, he has appeared in other big name TV dramas, including HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, as well as Treme.
Some of his other small screen credits include Proven Innocent, The Blacklist, and Yellowstone.
His film work includes roles in The Conspirator, Saint Frances, and Diminished Capacity among others.
However, despite his notable movie work, his television performances make up the bulk of his career, and his performance on The Wire remains the one he is best known for.
True-Frost recently had a small screen guest starring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in episodes broadcast this year.
The actor has been married to Cora True-Frost since 1999, with whom he shares two children.
Chicago native Wood Harris (pictured right in 2017) starred in The Wire, playing drug kingpin Avon Barksdale
Chicago native Wood Harris starred in The Wire, playing drug kingpin Avon Barksdale.
Following his performance in the long-running drama, roles in other television programmes and films followed.
Among his TV credits are Fox series Empire, in which he played Damon Cross in seasons five and six.
He is currently starring in Starz series BMF, playing Pat, a drug lord. His movie credits include Remember the Titans and Blade Runner 2049.
Additionally, Harris reunited with The Wire star Michael B Jordan in 2015, to perform in the Rocky spinoff Creed, playing Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers.
The third instalment of the Creed series will be released this year, once more featuring Harris in the role.
His personal life has been far less rocky than some of the other cast members.
In 2001, Harris wed Rebekah Harris, to whom he is still married and shares two children.
Clarke Peters (right in 2022), a New York City native, was much beloved in the show as BPD detective Lester Freamon
Clarke Peters, a New York City native, was much beloved in the show as BPD detective Lester Freamon.
While The Wire remains his most prolific acting appearance, he is also well known for his performance in TV series Treme.
Additionally, he has appeared in numerous small and big screen productions. These include His Dark Materials, True Detective, Person of Interest and Missouri among others.
This year, he appears in Apple TV+ series The Man Who Fell to Earth, playing Josiah Falls.
Peters has suffered more than his fair share of personal tragedy throughout his life.
His son Guppy, with ex Joanna Jacobs, died aged four in 1992, of a kidney tumour. Their surviving son Joe is an actor.
He is now married to Penny Peters, with whom he shares a son, Max.