Wallace (The Wire)
|First appearance||"The Target" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"Cleaning Up" (episode 1.12)|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Michael B. Jordan|
|Occupation||Drug dealer for Barksdale Organization|
Wallace is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Michael B. Jordan. Wallace is a 16-year-old drug dealer for the Barksdale Organization, who works in the low-rise projects crew known as "The Pit" with his friends and fellow dealers Bodie Broadus and Poot Carr. When information he provides leads to the brutal death of Brandon Wright, the boyfriend of stick-up artist Omar Little, Wallace feels guilty and tries to leave the drug trade. He informs on the Barksdale Organization to the police, and as a result is killed by Bodie and Poot under orders by drug kingpin Stringer Bell.
Wallace is a 16-year-old drug dealer in the Barksdale crew's low rise projects organization (called "The Pit"). He serves with Poot Carr and Bodie Broadus under D'Angelo Barksdale through the entirety of season one. He shows the signs of a half-finished education — he can identify famous people on currency better than the rest of his crew (including D'Angelo, who objects when Wallace correctly points out that Alexander Hamilton was never president), but sometimes struggles with the math involved with drug dealing. He also takes responsibility for numerous younger kids in the projects, housing them in a squatter's apartment, packing their lunches, seeing them off to school and helping them with their homework. He betrays his age when he is found playing with toys while supposed to be on lookout duty.
After Omar Little robs the pit crew's stash of drugs, Wallace spots his accomplice Brandon playing pinball and calls this information in. Stringer Bell grabs Brandon and tortures him to death. His body is left on display, coincidentally outside of Wallace's home. Wallace receives a quarter of the $2000 bounty on Brandon's head, but is so sickened by the event that he decides he wants out of "the game". He approaches D'Angelo and tells him he wants to go back to school. D'Angelo gives him his blessing and some cash. Poot discovers that Wallace has spent the money on drugs and is spending most of his time at home getting high.
Wallace is picked up by the police and agrees to cooperate with the Barksdale detail, revealing Stringer's involvement in the killing of Omar's boyfriend Brandon. In order to keep him safe until the trial, Wallace is sent to live with his grandmother in rural Cambridge. After detective Kima Greggs is shot in an undercover operation, the detail becomes so preoccupied with her condition that Wallace is temporarily forgotten. Bored with life away from Baltimore, he returns to the low-rise projects and asks to get involved in the trade again. Stringer Bell becomes suspicious of Wallace's return. D'Angelo tries to reassure Stringer of Wallace's loyalty, but Stringer is not convinced and assigns Bodie to kill Wallace. Cornered at gunpoint by Poot and Bodie, Wallace begs for mercy, reminding Bodie of their friendship. Bodie first taunts, then hesitates, unable to bring himself to pull the trigger. Poot urges him on and Bodie finally shoots Wallace, only to leave him severely wounded and slowly dying. Poot takes the gun and finishes him off.
D'Angelo is outraged when he learns of Wallace's death. It is one of the main factors that leads D'Angelo to want to leave "the game" himself, and it drives a permanent wedge between him and Stringer. In season three McNulty finds the crime scene photo from Wallace's murder and he and Roland Pryzbylewski share a look.
Behind the scenes
Michael B. Jordan auditioned before The Wire casting director Alexa Fogel in New York City for the role of Bodie. He was called back twice and the auditions went well, but he was turned down for the part because Fogel thought he was too young. The part went to Jordan's friend J. D. Williams, who grew up in the same hometown with Jordan in Newark, New Jersey. Jordan was asked instead to audition for the younger character Wallace, and was cast in the part.
Jordan did little preparation for the part, but used his experiences growing up on the streets of Newark, New Jersey, as a way to prepare for the role. Jordan said, "I live in an area where there are lots of drug dealers and I know some people who may or may not sell drugs, so this is not new to me." The actor found out his character was going to be killed one week before it was filmed. Series creator David Simon has described Wallace as an emotional center to the show's first season and praised Jordan's performance, saying that he was sorry the character had to leave but that the story comes first. Simon sees the character as an illustration of the adage "a 14-year-old drug dealer is still 14."
Amos Barshad of New York magazine called Wallace's death "one of an overwhelmingly bleak show’s bleakest moments". MSNBC reporter Michael Ventre described it as "perhaps the most memorable (scene), and one that illustrates The Wire in microcosm." The character remained memorable years after his departure from the show. During a January 2008 premiere party for the fifth season of The Wire, Simon read the names of every notable cast member in the show, and media outlets reported the loudest cheers came for Jordan and the recognition for his portrayal as Wallace.
- Morales, Wilson (2002-09-13). "On His Own: An Interview with Michael B. Jordan". BlackFilm.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- Zarrabi, Nima (2008-10-02). "An Interview with Michael B. Jordan: Catching up with Wallace from The Wire". SLAM Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- David Simon (2005). The Wire "The Target" commentary track (DVD). HBO.
- Barshad, Amos (2009-01-07). ""The Wire" Premiere: Wallace Lives, and Rawls Cuts a Rug". New York. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- Ventre, Michael (2004-11-13). "On "The Wire," sometimes the bad guys win". MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-05-04.