Going into the process, I wanted to get the character right. And nobody could tell me what they do; the drug affects everybody differently. So it came out through, "Let me just find the character as I go along." And I think that was one of the greatest happy accidents that could have happened, because that's what made everyone relate to the character and kept Bubbles alive -- he was just an honest, just good individual.
Reddick: The last thing you said, about rooting for him -- for me, when I watch the show, I'm not rooting for good guys or bad guys, because you don't know who they are. You're rooting for individuals.
Williams: I cried like a baby when they killed Bodie [a drug crew soldier played by J.D. Williams who was going to give the police information about Marlo]. I knew it was coming. But I was in a room full of dudes and I'm sitting there, like [wiping his eyes].
Royo: The one killing that really shook me up would have to be D'Angelo. I think David Simon even learned something about his storytelling. Because I remember when he killed D'Angelo, off the cuff, his response was, "Hope can't survive." That was offensive.
Sohn: He said there's no hope in the ghetto. And we were all like, "Oh, no!" I love David. I think he's brilliant, and I think he has a beautiful heart. But we all just got ripped up when we heard that. There's no hope in the ghetto? It was, like, dude, this cast might not be here if there was no hope in the ghetto!
Royo: You can't write the story without that. That's the only thing that keeps the whole thing going -- that we hope it's going to get better.
Are there institutions that any of you started thinking about differently after being on the show?
Sohn: My mind wasn't changed about much, except the cops. I knew it was going to be a little challenging for me to play a cop, because I grew up in a neighborhood very similar to that, the one I was policing the first season. But I didn't know how it was going to affect me. I mean, it really rattled me.
The scene when I'm chasing Bodie, we're running all through the projects -- that's when I jumped into the body of a cop, because I had to beat somebody down. Cops historically came into my neighborhood and made things worse. So here I am, in the middle of the scene, getting ready to beat somebody down, and my mind was just reeling. I had to stop and go, "Hold it." I had to remember some of the research I had done. Prior to doing these scenes, I had rode around with a couple of cops, undercover narcotics detectives. It was the first time I was able to see these are just regular guys. This actually could be my brother. And so I started to see the humanity in police officers.
Clarke, your character is fascinating because in some ways through Seasons 1 through 4 he really is the most principled of all of them. And then we see him do some things in Season 5 that are kind of astounding. What did you make of his trajectory?
Peters: Mmm. I was not happy when I read Episode 3 of this last season. I thought, "No, this isn't the man. This is not what I signed up for." But I've often said Freamon is the guy I'd like to be when I grow up. And I still want to be him, in spite of all the stuff that went on. Because when it comes down to just your actions and doing the right thing, against everything else, a man has got to do what a man has got to do to get the job done. Even at the expense of losing whatever integrity he has, if the end result is going to be accurate, without harming -- we didn't harm anyone. So he didn't go outside his moral compass in that respect.
Williams: But do the ends justify the means?
Reddick: That's one of the questions that Season 5 really raises. And in yours and McNulty's minds, you guys have really reached the point where . . . it's time to do what we think is right. And the thing that's so interesting to me is that in terms of reasoning, I don't see how that's different from Stringer or [drug kingpin] Avon [played by Wood Harris]. To look at it from a human point of view, this is what we've got to do to survive or be true to who we are.
Jamie, I wanted to ask you about Marlo. Of all the characters, he has a unique kind of viciousness. Do you see him having any morals?
Hector: To those around him. I think his love only goes as far as what makes sense. You know, corporate America looks at everybody like numbers. Marlo looks at everybody the same way, but it's just on the streets. It's like, "OK, you drop one of my boys, you got to fall." Everyone is a number to Marlo, except those who are close to him. Everybody else is basically irrelevant. I don't think it's too much about money to him, but he understands money feeds his power. And it's power that he's really after.
Wendell, Bunk goes through an interesting journey in this season.