There are some TV character deaths that hit you like you knew them personally, and you start to wonder if the actor playing them felt the same way about it. Vulture reported that Michael B. Jordan, who played Wallace in the first season of HBO drama The Wire, broke down what it was like filming his fateful final scene in a new book about the show's history, All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire. The book, written by Jonathan Abrams, acts as the “definitive oral history” of the beloved show with behind-the-scenes stories from actors, directors, writers and more.
Calling Wallace the "heart of the show," Jordan said creator David Simon wanted to “rip that heart out and really use Wallace as a harsh example of sometimes being the victim of your circumstances.” In the episode "Cleaning Up," Wallace is shot and killed by fellow drug dealers, and his own best friends, Bodie and Poot. (If that was a spoiler, I'm not sorry. You've had 16 years to catch up!) The scene was gripping and tragic, and viewers still can't get over just how much it hurt to watch.
"That death scene is something people always come up to me and talk about and say how they were crying and how much it affected them,” Jordan said. “Years later. It’s just a testament to the writing and the crazy performance. It was awesome.”
Jordan also says he had an idea the death was coming, particularly when Simon came to his trailer. "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," he explained. "I didn’t want her to see it."
He recounted the grueling hours of shooting and re-shooting the scene to get it just right, saying they "definitely overshot." Like most great actors, switching into character can make you almost unrecognizable to those who know you in real life in some ways, and despite Jordan's close connection with J.D. Williams, who played Bodie on the show, it all went out the window during shooting.
"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," he explained. "We was just talking to each other, and then [when we started filming the scene] it was like I didn’t even know him."
Simon told Jordan his final scene would be the perfect starting point to a successful career. "I said it to Michael, ‘People are going to remember Wallace. Wallace is going to bother them for a long time after the whole show is forgotten. You’re going to have a career. You did great with this.”
Jordan's career would, of course, continue to blossom after the role, with leading roles in blockbuster films like Creed and box office record-breaking Black Panther.