As The Wire hits its 20th anniversary, creator David Simon is opening up about how Stringer Bell’s death in the third season not only shocked viewers, but also actor Idris Elba who was not exactly thrilled about being written off of the groundbreaking show. At the time, Elba wasn’t the major star is he today, but Simon could tell “what a leading man he was” and assured him that his onscreen death would be a good thing for his career. However, Simon was sympathetic to Elba’s concerns because he fully understood that, outside of The Wire, there wasn’t a whole lot of work for Black actors.
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) June 30, 2022
Via The Wrap:
“When he read the script … he was like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I’m leaving the show.’ Like, he was not happy. And I remember talking with him over the script and saying, ‘Idris, you’re going to have movie roles. You’re going to be an A-lister. People are going to get a load of this death, they’re going to acquire this story arc in retrospect — this is your calling card, man. You’re going to do fine.’”
Obviously, things worked out, and Simon was correct. Thanks to his command performance on The Wire, Elba is now an A-list star with a cavalcade of roles under his belt. (Not to mention, the near-constant calls to make him the next James Bond.) That said, it is an interesting look back at how far the industry has come, and still needs to go, that Elba had very justifiable concerns that being killed off of The Wire could’ve tanked his career despite delivering one of the most memorable TV roles of the past 20 years.