The series finale of HBOthe original series of Thread aired March 9, 2008, leaving a lasting legacy, whose longevity will live on long after its creators, writers, crew and cast. For good reason, Thread is often ranked as one of the best series of all time. It examines Baltimore’s institutions, including the illegal drug trade, port system, city government, education, and media. His deep dive into city life is captivating and heartbreaking.
These are the stories Thread alum Wendell Pierce tries to say. The actor has always sought roles that depict the timeless struggle and interpersonal relationships between entities that help shape America. In Thread, it was between the police and the criminals, and now in his next role in The good wife spin off Elsbethit will be between law enforcement and lawyers.
The busy actor recently came to play Death of a seller for the first time on Broadway. Arthur Miller’s classic presents the dark underbelly of the American Dream and its elusive promise of equality and opportunity for all. “I will put Thread on par with Death of a seller when it comes to storytelling,” Pierce told TV Insider. “These are the kinds of stories I want to tell, not just on television but as you see on Broadway on stage. […] These are the things that are found in common.
In our interview below, Pierce discusses the possibility of working with the creator david simon and co-starred Dominica Westthe legacy of Threadand how its storytelling is on par with some of the greatest productions of all time.
It’s been 15 years since Thread ended. Are there any specific moments that are still close to your heart?
Wendell Pierce: Yeah, there always is the “F scene” with Dominic and me. It was in the first season that the genre established that the show was going to be different. Like, oh, it’s gonna be a different show. And it’s also one of the best. One of the highlights of my career. I can say career even because it was a classic acting exercise, an acting challenge that we took on. I really liked that.
And then for me, the other was the scene with Michael K. Williams like Omar, when Omar meets Bunk or they have a confrontation and it’s really something unique. I found in my research that most African American officers came from the very neighborhoods that were disproportionately plagued by crime. They became officers because it did not reflect 99% of the population. And they were good, hard-working people in school who worked every day and tried to improve their lives in the midst of being, you know, in poverty.
And [in this scene] meet a person who has chosen a criminal lifestyle that has a negative effect on a neighborhood — but we’re all neighbors, we all grew up together, and we’re all from the same community — it’s these two factions of the community that come together . Embodied in Omar and Bunk in this single scene is the debate our communities have to this day, which is no longer bodies. LAW? You know we work hard, we are good people, and you are causing major trauma to the community. Stop the trauma, and let’s find a way for a better way. And that message continually resonated with people who saw the show, and they always come back and refer to it.
It seems like you revisit the series often.
I revisit the series intermittently. For a while there was a marathon going on, much like every year. And I’ll come back to it when someone points out a particular episode that I don’t remember or a storyline that I didn’t remember. It’s the problem of memory, how different it can be and how impactful it can be. For a moment, you go back and realize it was so impactful for that audience member that you didn’t remember that you go back and remember.
And that kind of sense of memory was at the height of what I was doing recently on Broadway, Death of a sellerwhich is a play about the psychological impact it can have on a life for decades, a moment, and an incident. […] I revisit material that delves into the personal psyche in this way, which challenges me as an actor. SO Thread is on par with Death of a seller … It’s the material that I find in common that appeals to me as an actor. That’s the thing that I’ve mostly tried to revisit, and that’s what the connection is between Thread And Death of a seller.
Recently, David Simon made We own this town, and you worked with him again afterwards Thread In Treme. Do you plan to work with him again in the future?
I hope the door is still open to work with David Simon again. It’s for me, I would like to work with him again. And from our relationship, just like his colleagues and friends, he has this open door. The great thing about David is that over the years, with all of his shows, he’s put together a band almost like an acting repertoire company. The same way as Orson Welles made with the Mercury Theatre… [he] had a coveted repertoire of actors that he called upon at different times on different projects. And I had the chance to do it with Thread and with Treme. And then you see other people doing it from show to show.. like Khandi [Alexander] And clark [Peters] made of The corner For Treme.
Along the same lines, do you hope to work with Dominica West Again?
I would love to work with Dominic, and I’m sure he feels the same way when a project comes up. I recommended him for a few projects for him and me, and just because of the timing, we couldn’t do it… In fact, recently I was referring him for a project. But, you know, he does The crown, so it is not available. And he and I were meant to do othello in England together, but I was not available. But keeping the theme of working with a company of actors that you relate to, he did it with Clarke Peters in England. And so I look forward to one day making that connection again.
What are your interactions with Thread fans now? There’s a whole new generation of kids whose parents put them on it.
It’s a really interesting thing, we weren’t aware of it when we were doing it… We really developed an audience and an appreciation that none of us could have anticipated. And that’s because the show is a classic, something so authentic and so human, and speaks to a truth of our humanity that it speaks when it [was being] product, and also ongoing for years to come. And it’s a disparate group of people from all walks of life who find something tangible in that authenticity, you know, the more truthful you are. And the more specific you are, the more universal it becomes.
What makes it classic is that it endures across time, place, class and race, and gender; it touches everyone in a unique way. And that’s the thing about Thread, that long after we’re gone, people will see the show and still have something to learn from it. And I really enjoy meeting fans. Like you said, I’m finally sitting with Thread and share it with my children, who are [now] old enough to watch. For me, it’s a real, real honor.
ThreadSeasons 1-5, Streaming Now, HBO Max
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.