Ask any television buff about their favorite show of all time, and there’s a solid chance they’ll say The Wire. Since its premiere in 2002, it’s become one of the most highly regarded shows by critics and viewers alike. And the careers of the cast have run the gamut since the finale—from starring in superhero movies to being named the Sexiest Man Alive. Find out what your favorite cast members are up to now.
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Then: Dominic West
The British actor starred as Detective Jimmy McNulty and was often praised for the accuracy of his American accent during his time on the series. He told Absolute Radio that it took “a lot of coaching” to hide his lifelong British accent and adapt to his role as a boozy Baltimore detective.
“Whenever I open my mouth in a room full of Wire fans, I’m used to a sort of deflation of like, ‘Oh dear, he’s not McNulty,'” he said. “It’s nice that people thought I was American, otherwise, it wouldn’t have worked, would it?”
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Then: Sonja Sohn
Sohn starred as Detective Shakima “Kima” Greggs on all five seasons of The Wire, often outsmarting McNulty and making him question his disdain for women in the police force along the way.
Sohn confessed to NPR that playing a police officer initially proved difficult for her, because of conduct she’d witnessed growing up: “My own perception of cops was that they came into your neighborhood, 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.”
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Now: Sonja Sohn
Sohn’s work on The Wire inspired her to give back to the city of Baltimore. While many of her costars left for Los Angeles after the finale, she stuck around to launch ReWired for Change, a nonprofit that aids young parolees in improving their lives upon their release from prison. The Wire creator David Simon serves as an honorary chairman of the organization, while Wendell Pierce and Michael K. Williams each have a seat on the board.
She’s also continued acting, appearing in Body of Proof, The Originals, The Chi, and more.
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Now: Wendell Pierce
Wendell Pierce has kept himself busy with roles on Numb3rs, Treme, The Michael J. Fox Show, Ray Donovan, Chicago P.D. and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. He was also the father of Meghan Markle’s character, Rachel Zane, on Suits.
He says he still watches The Wire from time to time, telling HBO: “I remember one time in particular—I was actually in Zimbabwe. I walked into my hotel room, turned on the television, and thought, ‘Wait a minute, that sounds like me.'”
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Then: John Doman
John Doman was ultra-convincing as career cop William Rawls, who climbed the ranks of the Baltimore Police Department to eventually become Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
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Now: John Doman
Doman has worked consistently since his time on The Wire, with roles on Gotham, Madam Secretary, House of Cards, and Damages. His most recent role was alongside West in The Affair as bestselling author Bruce Butler.
Still, he’s most recognized for The 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,” he told Indie Wire
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Then: Lance Reddick
The Baltimore native was cast as Cedric Daniels, a motivated but conflicted and career-minded police officer. Reddick says he auditioned four times—three of which he actually read for Bunk Moreland and Bubbles. He didn’t find out he landed the part until and after his agent had been told that he didn’t get the part.
“I still don’t know what happened. I thought it was a dead issue when I got the call. Literally, I thought I was dreaming. It’s the only time in my life I really wondered, ‘Am I dreaming this?’ Because, it was like my life changed after that,” he told Hobo Trash Can.
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Now: Lance Reddick
Following his success, Reddick appeared in Lost, Fringe, American Horror Story, and Bosch. He’ll appear next in the upcoming Angel Has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Godzilla vs. Kong.
He’s also appeared on the big screen work in the John Wick franchise as the titular hero’s loyal hotel manager, Charon, which he told SlashFilm gave him a chance to flex his action muscles: “I love doing action and it’s so funny because I’ve played so many cops, and I rarely get to shoot guns and fight people. Fringe, Bosch, The Wire…”
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Then: Clarke Peters
During his tenure are Lester Freamon on the series, the British thespian said he learned a great deal about American politics, history, and life in general. “Although this was centered in Baltimore, it was easy to see in a very short period of time how Baltimore was just every major city in America,” he told Maxim.
Costar West revealed to The Guardian that Peters was such a hardworking actor that his nickname on set was “Four Jobs.”
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Then: Clarke Peters
Since then, Peters appeared in David Simon’s New Orleans-based drama Treme. He’s also had recurring and starring roles on Damages, Jessica Jones, Person of Interest, Bulletproof, Love Is, and landed a role in the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Despite his seemingly bottomless well of work, it’s still Lester Freamon that he wishes he could reprise someday: “We tried to put out a rumor there would be a movie version, but that didn’t fly. We talked up some spin-off possibilities—I really fancied The Freamon Files. Some of us are still pretty devastated it’s all over,” he told The Scotsman.
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Then: Jim True-Frost
True-Frost played the trigger-happy and often incompetent Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski, who leaves the Baltimore police force to become a middle school teacher. His character’s career transition brought True-Frost closer to his own wife.
He told Vulture, “My wife, Cora, had taught for two years as a Teach for America corps member in a Baltimore city school, teaching students exactly like the ones Prez taught. We would watch early episodes together and my wife would be slack-jawed, saying, ‘Oh my God, those are my kids.’ So we had this deep connection with these kids long before I knew that I was going to play the identical role she had lived.”
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Now: Jim True-Frost
True-Frost followed a lot of his colleagues to David Simon’s Treme, then dabbled in various TV and stage work. Though he said his time on The Wire was “fantastic,” he’s since taken a step back from acting to live a normal life in upstate New York with his family, which he told Syracuse.com was a “tradeoff”: “It’s not exactly convenient. It adds a lot of time and effort seeking and going to work and remaining involved in the business. But at mid-career I felt if I didn’t make a choice to prioritize other aspects of my life I might just burn out,” he said.
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Then: Wood Harris
Harris played Baltimore drug kingpin Avon Barksdale on The Wire, but admitted that he didn’t know if the show would be a hit when he signed on for the iconic role. “With film, you can feel confident that you’re doing good work, but never know what it’s going to look like,” he told Broadway.com. “Now The Wire is regarded as the greatest show ever, and we’re all like, ‘Yeah, what’s up!'”
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Now: Wood Harris
In 2010, Wood Harris narrated a documentary on Nathan Barksdale (the inspiration for Avon Barksdale), called The Avon Barksdale Story. He’s also had recurring roles in Southland, Justified, The Breaks, and Empire, and appearedon the big screen in Bladerunner 2049 and Creed II.
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Then: Idris Elba
Elba starred as Russell “Stringer” Bell for three seasons, but the British actor feared he might not get the part when a casting director told him the show’s creator wanted an exclusively American ensemble.
“Alexa Fogel was a casting director that was really into seeing new talent. She said ‘I love you, I gotta bring you into this audition, but you have to promise that you can’t tell him you’re from East London,'” he told Hot Ones. By Elba’s fourth audition, he came clean about his East London roots and begged not just for the job, but for Fogel to keep hers. Spoiler alert: It worked.
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Now: Idris Elba
Afterwards, Elba transitioned predominantly to film work, with supporting roles in The Reaping, 28 Weeks Later, and American Gangster, before his starring role alongside a certain Beyoncé Knowles-Carter in Obsessed. After that, it was blockbusters like Thor, Avengers, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim—and we’d be remiss to forget that he was People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018.
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Then: Michael B. Jordan
Jordan got his start in television as a 16-year-old drug dealer named Wallace. It was his first recurring role, but he almost quit acting after he was written off the show—that is, until costar Andre Royo talked him out of it.
“He was stressed out,” Royo told Vanity Fair. “He was like, ‘Yo, I’m not working enough, s—t is crazy, I think I’m going to go back to New York.’ And he was really on some ‘boo-hoo’ s—t. And I was like, ‘Yo dog, are you kidding me right now? You in your early 20s and you’re around motherf—kers trying to feed families who ain’t working. Snap out of it.'”
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Now: Michael B. Jordan
Jordan nabbed the role of Reggie Porter on All My Children after The Wire, then moved on to hits like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. He’s since gone on to star as the son of Apollo Creed in the Creed franchise, and his most notable role to date was that of criminal antihero Erik Killmonger in Black Panther.
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Then: Michael K. Williams
Williams’ character, Omar Little, was beloved by fans—even former President Barack Obama said Little was his favorite. But Williams took some of his characters’ demons with him off of the set.
After season 1, Williams became addicted to cocaine and was evicted from his Brooklyn home. “I was using Omar as a means of escape. Now I don’t use my job as a way to define me: it’s what I do, not who I am. I have that understanding now,” he told The Guardian.
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Now: Michael K. Williams
Since leaving the show, Williams has continued acting, with recurring roles in Boardwalk Empire, F Is for Family, Lovecraft Country, and a part in Twelve Years a Slave. He’s also an American Civil Liberties Union ambassador to help end mass incarceration, and embraces his acting as a means to that end.
“I use my job to engage empathy and compassion for people society might stereotype or ostracize,” he told The Guardian. “No one wakes up and says ‘I’m going to become a drug-dealer’ or ‘I’m going to become a stick-up kid.’ No. There is a series of events that makes them feel this is the only way out. As a black man growing up in the hood, I bear witness to some of those events.”
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Then: Andre Royo
Royo worked steadily in Hollywood for years before breaking through as Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins on The Wire. But initially Royo had his concerns about the character. At his audition, Royo told Slate he told the creators and producers he didn’t want to play another clichéd black junkie: “They just looked at me and were like, ‘Oh, you don’t know how we get down.'”
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Now: Andre Royo
Playing Bubbles took a toll on Andre Royo, and he told Slate he sought help for his own addictions after starring as the junkie on the hit series. Since the end of The Wire, Royo landed roles on Empire and Hand of God.
He told The Hollywood Reporter of his career, “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.”
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Then: Seth Gilliam
Gilliam’s character Ellis Carver was originally a guest role, but he became a full-time cast member in season 3. He admitted to IndieWire that he almost left the series when he felt underutilized: “At some point, I was like, ‘Is there even film in those cameras? What is this, some Steinbrenner s—t, where you sign some guys and then sit ’em on the bench?'”
He says that when he and costar Domenick Lombardozzi threatened to walk because of their lack of screen time, show creator David Simon told them, “You’re right. You’re sitting on houses, feeling like you’re not being used properly. Just like your character.”
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Now: Seth Gilliam
Gilliam stuck it out, and it paid off, as he and Lombardozzi got more action on-screen later in the series. Following The Wire, Gilliam starred as Detective Daniels on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Dr. Alan Deaton on Teen Wolf. His most recent and prominent role is as Father Gabriel on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
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Then: Domenick Lombardozzi
Lombardozzi starred alongside Seth Gilliam as Thomas “Herc” Hauk, and the duo were beloved by fans for their couple-like bickering and comic relief on the otherwise dark series. He got his big break in A Bronx Tale as a low-level gangster named Nicky Zero, then had a host of small parts (many as police officers) before landing The Wire in 2002.
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Now: Domenick Lombardozzi
Following his success, Lombardozzi landed a recurring role on Entourage, and starred in Breakout Kings and Boardwalk Empire. His most recent projects include Ray Donovan and The Irishman.
Despite his character’s signature boisterous nature in The Wire, Lombardozzi told The New York Daily News that he’s quiet behind the scenes: “People say, how can you be quiet and shy if you’re an actor? The funny thing is when I act, it’s when I feel the most free. It’s when I’m not acting that it’s like I take two steps back and just observe.”
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Then: Corey Parker Robinson
Robinson’s big break was on ER, as Antoine Bell in 1999. He starred in David Simon’s The Corner miniseries in 2000 before signing on as undercover Detective Leander Sydnor on The Wire.
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Now: Corey Parker Robinson
Since The Wire, Robinson has kept a relatively low profile. He appeared in Unstoppable (as a cop), Boardwalk Empire, and his most recent role was as Agent Taylor in The Neighborhood in 2018. Robinson currently works behind the scenes as a co-founder of Daydream Films.