It's like sometimes you think everything is fine with our society, and then you run into a racist or something, and you think, "My god, I can't believe something like this still exists." But it does. We just tend to put it in the back of our subconscious because everything seems to be going smoothly. And we do the same thing with small pockets of people. We don't see them, so they're out of sight, out of mind.
WHEN YOU THINK BACK ONTHE WIRE, WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU TEND TO REFLECT ON? What a large and amazing cast it was, and how great of an experience it was because the writers, number one, were exceptionally brilliant — Ed Burns and David Simon, of course, and then you had other writers, [George] Pelecanos and other writers — but even moreso, the actors, the casting. They cast the correct people because they stayed away from name folks, because they come with a certain aura about them. When you cast a lot of unknowns but who were still actors for years — and, surprisingly, most of the lead actors were not from Baltimore, but the bottom core were totally from Baltimore. So they captured the essence of the city and layered it with non-big-name folk, and it created a real whole world that you've never seen before as far as drama was concerned. The actors on top of the writers' script made for a powerful combination. And then the heart of the city of Baltimore added the cream on the cake.
DO YOU LIVE IN BALTIMORE? Yes, born and raised here.
DO YOU STILL GET PEOPLE COMING UP TO YOU GOING, "HEY, PROP JOE!" Yeah. I tend to be an introvert. I don't get it as much because when it first came out, I couldn't escape it. When I go to different states, it's different. When I'm in New York, I can be across the street and someone will go, "Prop, I love your work." And they keep going. I love that as an actor, because I'd been in the theater for 25 years doing stage productions, and when you come off stage, no one knows who you are. But The Wire, my face is right there. So here in Baltimore, [people say] "Prop! I knew that was you! Hey man!" Everybody feels like they can talk to you, come up to you, touch you, talk to you in a restaurant over your food, in the laundry over your dirty underwear. It gets to be an invasion of privacy, so I stay in the house most of the time. [Laughs].
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE END OF YOUR CHARACTER'S ARC (SPOILER: MARLO KILLS JOE DURING THE FIFTH SEASON)? I love the whole run of Joe, but it's funny. At the end, when I got the call from Ed Burns, he goes, "I got some good news and some bad news." I'm like, "Oh, no. What's the good news?" And he says, "Well, in this next episode, you have about seven scenes, you have a whole lot of work. But at the end, you die." And I was quiet for a minute, because a couple of months prior to that, me and the actor who played Slim Charles [Anwan Glover] were actually at a dinner party with David Simon prior to the fifth season, and we asked him if we were gonna be around, and he's like, "Oh, yeah! I'm keeping you guys around until the end of the run!" So then when Ed Burns told me that, I'm like, "Okay, David, you broke your promise."