Where Did the Wire Cast and Crew Like to Hang Out in Baltimore?
Slate just ran an excerpt from Brett Martin’s Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos to Mad Men to Breaking Bad that centers on my personal pick for the best of the premium cable anti-hero shows: Yes, obviously, The Wire. The best thing about Martin’s book? All the juicy tidbits about Baltimore. Some choice excerpts below:
Clarke Peters, aka Lester Freamon, bought a rowhouse in Baltimore after season one. It became “a kind of groovy bohemian salon for an older set of cast and crew members,” Martin writes, including Jim True-Frost (aka Prez) and John Doman (Major Rawls). Peters made elaborate vegetarian meals, and did all he could to create a bohemian enclave in the city. “There was a piano and impromptu jam sessions fueled by red wine and pot smoke. For those seized by the after-hours impulse to watercolor, there were canvases on easels set up in the basement. Among its habitués, the house was called ‘the Academy.’ ”
Of course, some cast and crew members weren’t that into red wine and piano jam sessions; the younger, rowdier crowd preferred to hang out at the strip clubs on the Block after shooting wrapped around 1 AM. This scene included Dominic West (aka McNulty), Seth Gilliam (Carver), Domenick Lombardozzi (Herc), Wendell Pierce (Bunk), Andre Royo (Bubbles), J.D. Williams (Bodie), and Sonja Sohn (Kima). Sometimes things got rowdy:
“[Gilliam] could be an angry drunk in a minute,” Royo said. “If somebody would be like, ‘Oh, you those guys from The Wire,’ Seth would be like, ‘I don’t know what happened to manners, but we were talking.’ And these were guys who weren’t used to being talked to like that. Who had already humbled themselves to come over.” Yelling and pushing would often ensue, though usually not more, thanks to omnipresent bouncers. “Sonja would always have her eye on one of the bouncers and could give him a look. She’s a sexy little chick, so they’d make sure she was comfortable.”
Herc and Carver — excuse me, Lombardozzi and Gilliam — shared a Fells Point apartment, something that their bro-ish characters probably would’ve approved of. According to Martin, this apartment was the site for epic games of Good Guys (cops) vs. Bad Guys (drug dealers) Madden Football tournaments, some of which lasted until 6 AM. (Generally, call for cast and crew was 8 AM.)
And then, of course, there were the interactions with Baltimore natives. “My character’s head space was not a pleasant one,” Royo told Martin. “I’d look at Idris? Nothing but bitches outside his trailer. Dom West? Nothing but bitches. Sonja? Dudes and bitches. Me? I’d have junkies out there. They fell in love with Bubbles. I’d go into my trailer and clean my shit off and come out and they’d look at me like, ‘You’re not one of us. Fuck you.’ And then when I had the Bubbles garb back on, it’d be, ‘Hey! What’s up? Welcome back!’ That’s a head trip, man. That shit eats at you.”