The actor recalls confronting David Simon about the narrative shift, though he now admits that “he knew what he was doing, and eventually I’d see the big picture.”
“The Wire” is widely regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time, with critics and fans alike heaping praise on David Simon’s journalism-influenced portrayal of the many broken institutions affected by the Baltimore drug trade. But while it’s easy to appreciate the show’s epic scale and interlocking plotlines with the benefit of hindsight, the people making the show weren’t always certain that it was going to turn out so well.
In an excerpt from his posthumously published memoir “Scenes from My Life” (via Vulture) Michael K. Williams revealed that he wasn’t fully on board with Simon’s plan to make Season 2 about white dock workers in Baltimore after spending Season 1 focusing on drug dealers in the inner city.
“When I got my first scripts for season two and I saw the storyline had switched to white workers on the Baltimore docks, I was livid,” Williams wrote. “Probably with a little chip on my shoulder, I sought out David Simon, who had more than enough on his plate from him.”
Williams explained that he was afraid Simon’s plan for Season 2 would ruin one of his favorite parts of the show: its emphasis on diversity and honest portrayal of Black life in Baltimore.
“To his credit, he heard me out,” Williams said. “We had a conversation, and I told him my thoughts—about this being a Black show about the Black experience that foregrounded Black actors and now it looked like he was changing all that.”
Williams recalled that Simon understood his concerns, but ultimately stood by his original vision for the show.
“’You know, Michael,’” Williams recalled Simon saying. “’I understand, but you need to trust me. If I lead off season two going back into the low-rises, it’s going to make your world seem very small.’”
Ultimately, though, Williams came around. The actor said that once he began watching later seasons and saw the narrative shift focus yet again, he understood Simon’s sprawling vision for what it actually was.
“Of course he knew what he was doing, and eventually I’d see the big picture: how the circumstances of Omar’s world, his allies and enemies and victims, were connected—in some ways parallel—to the rest of the city’s institutions, ” he said. “But I’d be lying to say I got that right away. That didn’t come until I started watching Season 3.”