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Michael K. Williams Had A Major Concern About The Wire Heading Into Season 2, But David Simon’s Answer Solidified Their Collaboration

Fans of HBO’s classic series The Wire know how important Michael K. Williams’s character, Omar Little, was to the fabric of the program. The simple two-word phrase “Omar comin’” would strike fear in the hearts of anyone standing in the streets of Baltimore, be they drug-dealing criminals or the hardened police officers tasked with taking them down. Omar fought with armies on both sides of the battle, which made him unpredictable… and electric. 

What you might not know, however, is how influential the late Michael K. Williams was to the storytelling in The Wire, and how concerns he had for season 2 of the series set creator David Simon down a different path. It also aligned the faith of the cast behind Williams and Simon, once they knew of the showrunner’s intentions. During a recent press day for The Wire, where the cast emotionally recalled the acting performance of Williams, Simon also opened up about an important conversation that helped him set the tone for the workplace on the HBO series. As he told CinemaBlend:

As a writer, and as somebody who was trying to shepherd a big, unwieldy, universal show about a lot of things in Baltimore, and a lot of things in American life, when we went to that second season … Michael looked at the first scripts and he came into my office and he said, ‘Why? Why are you running away from the show we were building in the first season?’ I misapprehended. I’d worked with a lot of actors, and I thought, ‘Oh, he’s counting lines. He doesn’t have as much work.’ Instead, he very much pulled me up and said, ‘No, no, no. I don’t care about the number of lines. I want to know what you’re doing.’ And so I realized I have to talk him through what the plan is and why it’s the plan, and why I think it’s the right thing to do.

That level of “buy in” is integral for a show like The Wire, which really did take an unprecedented look at crime and corruption in a blue-collar American city – so much so that the mayor of the city tried to shut down filming because it was making Baltimore look too bad. But unless the cast and crew had faith in David Simon as a storyteller, it might be hard to recognize the bigger picture. Because yes, in season 2, the story shifted to the ports, and tried to tell the plot from a new angle. But Simon had an idea. And after that conversation with Michael K. Williams, he also had a valuable ally. As he went on to tell CinemaBlend:

He basically became an ambassador for ‘all the pieces matter.’ And I was really grateful for him. He went back to the other actors and said, ‘They know what they’re doing.’ I’m not sure he was always believed, but he believed. He came in before every season and I had the same kind of conversation with him, every time, of, ‘This is what we are going to do. This is the theme.’ And then he was rock solid.

Again, trusting the process led to the creation of one of the greatest shows on television. During the same conversations, I talked to the cast members about the best season of The Wire, and got a tremendous story from Wendell Pierce about a prequel movie for The Wire that could have starred Samuel L. Jackson. Why didn’t THAT happen? 

Now that The Wire is turning 20 years old, it’s time for you to either revisit it, or dive into it for the first time. The complete series is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and is currently streaming on HBO MAX for those with a subscription. It really is a masterpiece.

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.