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Idris Elba 'Was Not Happy' When He Was Written Off The Wire

Creator David Simon had to reassure Elba he'd have a successful career.
  • Idris Elba (Photo: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
    Idris Elba (Photo: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

    HBO's The Wire was released 20 years ago this week, and the cast and crew are taking time to remember their experience on the iconic drama. Speaking to the Associated Press, creator, writer, and showrunner David Simon revealed Idris Elba was devastated when he learned his character, Stringer Bell, was being written off the show.

    Simon said Elba was written off right "when people were really starting to discover what a leading man he was," prompting concerns about his career.

    "When he read the script he was like, 'Man, I can't believe I'm leaving the show,'" Simon recalled, adding that he had to reassure Elba he would have a successful career after The Wire. "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.'"

    Elba's character was written off in a shocking turn of events in the series' third season, surprising fans who had come to love Stringer Bell. Simon assured Elba that the shock of Stringer's exit would ultimately help his career. He recalled telling Elba, "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.'"

    Simon went on to say that it was understandable for Elba to be concerned about having a place in Hollywood, as The Wire was one of the few shows offering opportunities for Black actors at the time.

    "There just wasn't enough content being generated," Simon said. "That's been ameliorated somewhat by the changes in the industry and also by the weight of content, by how much we're doing."

    All five seasons of The Wire are streaming on HBO Max.

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    Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.

    TOPICS: The Wire, HBO, HBO Max, David Simon, Idris Elba