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Listening In to The Wire: Part I

December 05, 2006

Photos from F41 by Lauren Fleishman

In preparation for the final episode of the fourth season of The Wire, airing this Sunday on HBO, we return to our feature on the show that appeared in FADER 41. Every day for the rest of the week we will be posting extended interviews from the story, culminating on Friday with a massive Q&A with series co-creator David Simon. First up is Anwan Glover who plays Slim Charles and Felicia Pearson who plays Snoop.

Anwan “Big G” Glover plays Slim Charles, one of the only members of Avon Barksdale’s crew not arraigned at the end of season three. He is also an MC for Washington DC go-go group the Backyard Band.

Initially how did you hook up with the producers of The Wire?

I went for an audition at Pat Moran’s office. I had to come back for a second audition, and then they called me back in again, and then I landed Slim.

Were you looking for acting roles before, or did someone let you know you might be a good fit for the show?

I actually started with Pro Scout, I went to Pro Scout for like two and a half, three years. I kept losing in the finals, so that kind of like…I kind of gave up. They send your pictures out to different casting agents, though. The Wire has auditions, so I just walked in, signed my name up, and auditioned with Pat. I guess she liked my look, she called back and then I auditioned in front of Ed Burns and George Pelecanos, and then I did another read in front of David Simon too. I was on my way back from Houston, Texas, and I got a call from Pat Moran’s office saying, “Anwan, you just landed Slim Charles.” And I was so excited man, I was on the plane right before they tell you to turn all the transmissions off, I ran up and down the whole plane like, I’m on HBO! Everybody kept sending me Skyy Vodka.

When you started filming, what kind of background were you given for Slim Charles’s character?

Actually, I think my role wasn’t supposed to be that significant, but I had chemistry with Wood Harris and Idris Elba. They really liked my voice—I fit into Slim, I’m this tall dark skinned guy, I kind of brought that character to life.

What have been some of your favorite episodes?

When Stringer Bell tried to get me to kill Clay Davis, that was a real good one for me. Also when I told Avon, “We have to fight on that lie. No matter what, we must fight on that lie,” that was my quote [used on screen] at the beginning [of the episode], that was a real good one for me. And another one good for me was when Gerard and Sapper tried to kill Omar and almost killed his grandmother, and I was like, “On a Sunday morning, y’all tried to kill a church lady?!” Them three right there were my three favorites.

What’s the atmosphere like with the other actors on set?

Just like family man, everybody is family oriented. Nobody acts like they’re bigger than nobody, everybody’s just chilling in this one trailer. We can chill right here and talk, we eat together, everybody is cool. All the way down to craft services, the cameramen, the background people, everybody. The Wire is just one of those incredible shows man, everybody is just a big old happy family on set.

When you’re filming, do you stay in Baltimore or do you commute from DC?

No, I come one down, I commute. If I am real tired—like if I have a show in DC, and its over at about four or five in the morning and I have call time at like six—I just get a ride straight down and I just go to sleep on set. Or if somebody is already there with the trailers, I go in my trailer, in my honey wagon and just knock out until they call me for breakfast.

Before The Wire had you spent any extended time in Baltimore?

Just coming down to the Harbor, I like the aquarium down there. In the summertime you can go down and just feed the birds, get the good seafood, walk the boardwalk and chill.

What have you learned about the city since you’ve been on the show?

It’s a lot to learn about the city with the kids—it's like, Baltimore is like a lost city. It’s a city in its own world, they have their own slang. It’s a beautiful city, there is a lot of condemned buildings but a lot of property is real nice though. The people are friendly, you just got to get to know them. You have to go to Baltimore to experience it, you can’t just hear about it, you have to really experience it, [but] The Wire is showing you a lot about Baltimore and what’s going on, especially in season four.

Do other musicians in DC try to get you to play their music on the show?

I get that everyday cause in season two, Stringer Bell was like “I don’t like that go go shit anyway.” Hopefully I can try to get somebody some scenes with some go-go in the fifth season.

What’s going on with Backyard Band?

We’re working on our album right now, its called Hood Related II, we’re going to get Slim Thug, Trillville—we’re working with a lot of cats right now, we’re going to try and get rappers incorporated with the go-go and shoot a video to bring it to life. A lot of people really don’t know about go-go, they hear it and be like, “Oh what type of music is that? Dang, I don’t want to hear that, dang, that’s just some boo-boo.” But the music that we play, it’s just like a rapper rapping with a live band, we just have to bring it to life.

How have things changed since you started The Wire?

I was this big person in DC before the show, now I’m just bigger bigger. At first it was just like, “What’s up G, when y’all play next, y’all performing tonight?” Now at the mall people say, “Slim Charles, can you sign this for me?”

Felicia Pearson plays Snoop, an enforcer in drug dealer Marlo Stanfield’s crew. Pearson was raised and still lives in the sections of Baltimore were much of The Wire is filmed.

How did you get cast on the show?

One night Michael K Williams, he plays Omar on the show, was at Club One in Baltimore and he was just looking at me. He asked me my name, he wanted me to meet with the directors and the writers.

Did you know who he was?

No. I didn’t know who he was, I thought he was a bunch of bullshit.

Had you seen The Wire?

No, I didn’t watch The Wire ’cause I’m in the hood. We ain’t got HBO, we got basic cable. I had heard about it. A lot of my friends were extras and all that. I ain’t never had no time for real for real.

Did you have to audition?

I had to audition so everybody could approve. And everybody approved. They let me have a small part on season three, and season four I’m back again, so they must have loved it. I’m doing it up this season.

Your part has really expanded.

Yeah, I was excited about that. They let me do the first episode, like the first face you see is mine.

Had you ever thought about acting before?

No. I mean, yeah, but no. I just wanted to be a rapper.

Did acting come natural to you?

They said just act like yourself, just be natural or whatever, don’t look into the camera. I just played it like I was just standing on the corner just talking to my homeboys or whatever, like the other people don’t even exist.

Are you from the area where they film the show?

Yes sir, right in it, right where they film it in the hood.

Do people recognize you now?

Yes sir.

Do they treat you differently?

No, because they are people, they don’t play with me. I’m just the same old person, I don’t act different or nothing like that, I mean some family members come and put their hand out like I got millions or something like that, but you know family always have the tendency to get on your nerves,

This season when they talk about the school system they make the distinction between corner kids and stoop kids, which one were you growing up?

I was just on the corner just doing what I do. We just say the block, we don’t say the corner or the stoop. We on the block or we in the jungle.

A lot of season four focuses on the public school system. Is what they show what your experience was like?

Exactly. Exactly. And now that these gangs taking over or whatever, like the Bloods and the Crips, they should have that in there. The show’s got the world's attention right now because it’s based on the school system, the streets, and the police. That’s the truth, what else can you ask for?

Posted: December 05, 2006
Listening In to The Wire: Part I