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Wallace Death The Wire – Michael B. Jordan’s Death on The Wire Was Just As Heartbreaking in Real Life
The Wire established itself very early on as a show that refused to back away from the harsh realities of life. David Simon’s masterpiece was an unflinching look into the Baltimore streets—into the lives of cops and politicians and lawyers and drug dealers and vigilantes, who weren’t just good or evil, they were human.
A young Michael B. Jordan—long before Creed or Black Panther—played Wallace, a 16-year-old drug dealer in the low-rise projects who tries to leave the Barksdale gang. Jordan describes his character as “the heart of the show,” in All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire. “Simon wanted to rip that heart out and really use Wallace as a harsh example of sometimes being the victim of your circumstances.”
After feeling guilty about his involvement with the murder of Omar’s lover Brandon, Wallace tries to leave the Barksdales. But before he can escape the drug world, Stringer Bell orders Wallace’s young friends Bodie and Poot to kill the kid. It’s one of the many tragic moments of the show.
And shooting the scene was tragic for a then 14-year-old Michael B. Jordan, too:
I kind of knew it was coming. Especially when you get that knock on your trailer door from David Simon. I’ll never forget it. He said ‘I love you. The audience loves you. We’ve got to kill you. We’ve got to kill you off.’ I remember telling my mom not to show up on set that day. My mom gets extremely emotional, and this was kind of too much. I didn’t want her to see it. It was a long time to shoot that shot. We definitely overshot that for sure. I remember them having to duct-tape the windows, so the lights wouldn’t go through, because were were going so late into the night, to the morning. But it was really quiet. The crew knew.Everybody showed up. Even if they weren’t working, they kind of showed up on set. I knew Andrew Royo did, for sure. He was definitely a mentor of mine on that show. He showed up to help me get into the mindset and really talk me through it. I remember getting the squib under my shirt. They had a tube running down my leg with warm water for when he peed himself, when he got scared and shit. Me and J. D. Williams, who played Bodie, we’re both from Newark, New Jersey, and we both spent a lot of time on that show together, and I learned a lot from him over that show. We was just talking to each other, and then [when we started shooting the scene] it was like I didn’t even know him.
That, in itself, is a pretty good description of the power of The Wire. Even behind the scenes, the emotion of this show, permeated the set, touching the lives of the real world people it created. It’s just another example of how this show changed television. The good news is everything worked out for Michael B. Jordan.