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time 100 2016 idris elba
Mike Marsland—WireImage/Getty Images

Idris Elba

Apr 20, 2016

Logistics undid me. From a floor below the writers’ office, the folks in production were saying Episode 311 hadn’t left the building yet, or more precisely: Idris Elba’s copy of the script was still waiting for a P.A. to ferry it over to set. I still had time to finish some page changes then head to the trailers, find my actor and break it to him. I imagined the conversation going like this:

“Good news, bad news. Bad news is we’re killing you.”

“Hell is the good news?”

“We wrote an amazing death scene ...”

Maybe it’s funnier for the writers, but truth was I felt sanguine about ending Stringer Bell’s arc in the third season of The Wire.

For one thing, it made sense thematically to impale both Bell and Bunny Colvin simultaneously on the horns of reform. For another, I knew Elba, as true a leading man as I’d ever encountered, was not going to starve.

Before I could leave, the phone rang.

“I just read 311.”

“Whhaaaat? They haven’t delivered it yet.”

“One of the other guys showed me his.”

“’Dris, I’m sorry. I was on my way over to set to tell you.”

“So, I’m out of work.”

“Brother, you’re never going to lack for work again. You’re going straight to features. Don’t you realize that?”

Long pause, deep sigh and then: “From your mouth to God’s ear.”

No, my naive friend, He had precious little to do with it.

Simon is the creator of The Wire

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