The Cast of The Wire Was Everywhere This TV Season

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Photo: HBO

This month has seen Wire alums Aiden Gillen (Baltimore politico Tommy Carcetti) wrap his fifth season as ever-scheming puppet master Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on Game of Thrones, and Pablo Schreiber (in-over-his-head dockworker Nick Sobotka) return as “Pornstache” on season three of Orange Is the New Black. Schreiber also debuts on HBO’s The Brink as a slightly out-of-his-mind, pill-popping fighter pilot, but he’s just one of a number of stars from The Wire showing up on television this season. With a snazzy new Blu-ray boxed set out to help remind viewers where many of these actors came from, here’s a roundup of where you can find them — cops and gangbangers alike.

Amy Ryan (Beadie Russell)
Without a doubt the biggest star in a minor role on The Wire, Amy Ryan — whose main claim to fame pre-Wire was playing Téa Leoni’s friend on the unbearable sitcom The Naked Truth — leveled up her game considerably while playing Port Authority officer Beadie Russell, whose accidental discovery of a grisly crime is at the heart of The Wire’s second season. She memorably guested as the mother of a boy Ilana babysits on Broad City

Wendell Pierce (Bunk Moreland)
Like many Wire vets, Pierce, the actor who brought The Wire's hard-drinking, anything-for-a-joke Detective Bunk to unforgettable life, found his way to Treme, the more languid, less loved (but still well worth checking out) follow-up TV series from The Wire creator David Simon. As Antoine Batiste, a womanizing trombone player whose path to respectability was one of the bright spots in Treme’s stories of post-Katrina New Orleans, Pierce found a character almost as indelible as the Bunk. It’s a shame that his most-seen role to date — Teddy, agent to Matthew Perry's Oscar Madison on CBS’s new remake of The Odd Couple — is likely his least memorable one. 

Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty)
Reportedly offered a role on Game of Thrones, West has yet to top his career-defining performance as boozing, dissipated detective Jimmy McNulty on The Wire, but he’s still a presence on TV, earning Golden Globe nominations for his work as a 1950s TV news host on the short-lived BBC series The Hour, and for his current role as the male lead in Showtime’s The Affair, where he plays a frustrated writer, resentful of being dependent on his wealthy father-in-law. 

Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Clay Davis)
Oily, deeply dishonest Senator Clay Davis wasn’t the last political character for actor Whitlock, as he now recurs on Veep as General George Maddox, secretary of defense and frequent potential candidate for higher office. He also provided a hilarious impression of Wire castmate Michael K. Williams’s Omar Little in 2011’s Cedar Rapids

Domenick Lombardozzi (Thomas "Herc" Hauk)
Herc, the prone-to-anger cop whose bad luck and knack for taking shortcuts led him into all sorts of comical situations, was a defining role for Lombardozzi, but playing the relatives of larger-than-life criminals has become his new specialty, from his role as “Scarface” sibling Ralph Capone on Boardwalk Empire to playing the father of Vincent D’Onofrio’s “kingpin of crime” Wilson Fisk on Netflix’s Daredevil

Glynn Turman (Mayor Clarence Royce)
Turman’s performance as the profoundly corrupt Mayor of “Charm City” couldn’t be further away from his current role on House of Lies, where plays the sardonic but caring father of Don Cheadle’s main character, Marty Kaan. 

Reg E. Cathey (Norman Wilson)
The scene-stealing Cathey, who played Tommy Carcetti's brilliant advisor on The Wire, can most recently be seen as Freddy Hayes on House of Cards (for which he earned an Emmy nomination) and on Grimm as Baron Samedi. He’ll also play Wire castmate Michael B. Jordan’s father in this summer’s Fantastic Four

Michael K. Williams (Omar Little)
The coolest character on The Wire, even if his capacity for surviving incredible violence and an array of dangerous enemies strained credulity, was stickup man Omar Little. Actor Michael K. Williams was so good as Omar that once you’ve seen his performance, you’ll be angry that his Boardwalk Empire character, Chalky White, wasn’t in every episode. You’ll also be mad that Omar can’t somehow have a post-Wire life on other shows (à la the post-Homicide Richard Belzer character Detective Munch), as every series could use a little Omar. Williams will next be seen in this summer’s IFC comedy mini-series The Spoils Before Dying.

Almost Everybody Else
For one-stop shopping for Wire cast members, go no further than The Walking Dead and, for even more, The Good Wife. While Dead has done well by actors like Larry Gilliard Jr. (D’Angelo Barksdale), Chad Coleman (Dennis "Cutty" Wise), and Seth Gilliam (Ellis Carver), The Good Wife has provided no shortage of roles for Wire alums. In addition to also casting the aformentioned Reg E. Cathey, Coleman, and Gilliam, castmembers Jim True-Frost (Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski) and Gbenga Akinnagbe (Chris Partlow) have appeared in Good Wife courtrooms, and, most notably last season, actor J.D. Williams, who played street-level dealer Bodie Broadus on The Wire, ran into serious trouble when his character’s loyalty to Wife drug kingpin Lemond Bishop was questioned in the season’s final episodes. Guy can’t catch a break, even in the tonier districts of The Good Wife.