Why Isiah Whitlock Jr. Used His Signature The Wire Catchphrase In Da 5 Bloods

Isiah Whitlock on The Wire

It’s probably not fair to Isiah Whitlock Jr., who has appeared in several outstanding movies and television shows, but every time that he appears on screen, I immediately think of Clayton “Clay” Davis from HBO’s The Wire. The corrupt state senator was a standout in an ensemble filled with memorable characters, and he had the greatest catchphrase in television history: “Shhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.”

Now, to be fair, Isiah Whitlock Jr. leans into the popularity of this elongated catchphrase. He’s been known to bust it out in other instances, and his character does use it in the new Spike Lee movie, Da 5 Bloods. So when CinemaBlend spoke with the actor at the movie’s press day, I asked him how it ended up there and I learned it was very deliberate, and calculated. Whitlock Jr. told us:

I think I put it in an appropriate place. Because Spike kept saying, ‘When are you going to do it? When are you going to do it?’ And I said, ‘Look, I’ve got about two spots where I think it’s going to work. But we just gotta wait.’ I’ve come to realize that if you just put it anywhere, then it just becomes something else. But if you drop it where it needs to be dropped, I think it really works. And in this movie, I feel when he asked me for the money, it’s pretty much what anybody would say.

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It’s not up to me to tell you anything about the money, or what provoked the line. But I can tell you that I screamed out loud when Isiah Whitlock Jr. said it in Da 5 Bloods. And if you are a rabid fan of The Wire, you likely will, too.

Even if you didn’t watch David Simon’s HBO drama (and you need to, stat), Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is required viewing now that the film is on Netflix. Lee tells the story of four Vietnam vets who head back to the country to retrieve gold they buried during the war. But in doing so, he speaks to racial inequalities and social injustices, as only Lee can. Our full review can be found right here.

And here’s the full clip of our interview with Whitlock Jr. about his The Wire catchphrase:

As mentioned, Da 5 Bloods is a film that will be part of the Oscar conversation, whatever the awards season ends up looking like in this crazy year. Pay close attention to the work of Delroy Lindo in this new drama. It’s devastating work.

Bookmark our Streaming section for more details on all of Netflix’s programming. And once you have seen Da 5 Bloods, head back here and drop your review in the comments.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.