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In June 2002, when HBO debuted The Wire, no one knew what was happening. No one knew that the show was a five-part story about not only the people but also the city of Baltimore, told through all of the channels that help make its history: season 1, the drug game and the police force; season 2, the docks; season 3, the city’s political scene; season 4, the school system; and season 5, the media.

When the show ended in 2008, many of us wondered what would happen to all the great actors The Wire introduced us to. Here’s a look at what the performers who helped make the show stand out have been up to since.

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It was brilliant to watch all of this complexity wrapped around beautiful language and fluid storytelling. The storytelling was no surprise, given that the show was created by natural storyteller David Simon, who gleaned many of the show’s tales from his previous life as a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. By season 4, Slate was arguing for why it was the best show in American television history. Not only was it layered and nuanced, but it also introduced iconic figures into the American lexicon. Bubbles, Wee-Bay, Omar, Stringer Bell, Prop Joe, Snoop, Marlo, Brother Mouzone and Wallace aren’t random names; they are friends we all knew once, back before we realized what was happening.

When the show ended in 2008, many wondered what would happen to all the great actors The Wire introduced us to. So The Root decided to look in on all the great performers who helped make the show stand out to see what they are up to these days.


The Cops

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Dominic West

Since his days as Det. James “Jimmy’” McNulty, the British actor has plowed through Hollywood starring in several movies and TV shows continuing to perfect his American accent, most recently as Noah Solloway on the Showtime drama series, The Affair, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.

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Wendell Pierce

Pierce will always be Det. William “Bunk” Moreland in our minds but since his days on The Wire, the class of 1985 graduate of Juilliard School’s Drama Division appeared as trombone player Antoine Baptiste in David Simon’s Treme, a post-Katrina take on New Orleans. Pierce has also appeared in more than 10 movies and had recurring roles in hit TV shows including Suits and Ray Donovan. He also played Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in HBO’s Confirmation. Outside of Hollywood, in 2007, Pierce started Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp., a nonprofit created to help to rebuild New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, he started Sterling Farms to bring fresh, affordable produce to the Ninth Ward. And, this year, Pierce partnered with a group to bring a 103-unit affordable apartment complex to Baltimore.

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Lance Reddick

Could you imagine Lt. Cedric Daniels as Bubbles? Well, Lance Reddick auditioned for the role and thank God he didn’t get the part. Since his days patrolling the streets of Baltimore, Reddick has kept busy starring in the now-canceled but wildly popular Fox show Fringe. If you miss Lt. Cedric Daniels, you can catch Reddick doing his best Daniels impression as Deputy Chief Irvin Irving on Amazon Prime’s Bosch. Fun fact: in 2007, Reddick released a jazz CD, Contemplations & Remembrances, because Reddick sings! That’s right; imagine a cross between Cassandra Wilson and Lt. Cedric Daniels. Listen here.

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Sonja Sohn

Det. Shakima “Kima” Greggs wasn’t supposed to make it past the 10th episode of the first season, but Sohn found out early and confronted Simon who re-wrote the episode and Kima survived. When the show ended, Sohn looked back to her past as a slam poet and social activist and started ReWired for Change, a non-profit organization that “empowers at-risk youth, families and communities living in underserved areas through media and social advocacy and the facilitation of community building resources.” She also did continue acting after The Wire, with recurring roles in Body of Proof, Burn Notice and The Originals.

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Seth Gilliam

Like most cop members of the show, Gilliam has gone to play similar roles to his Wire character Sgt. Ellis Carver in shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, CSI: Miami, Mercy, Law & Order, Person of Interest, and Criminal Minds. In 2015, Gilliam found himself on the other side of the real law after he was arrested and charged with a DUI and possession of marijuana. Gilliam’s best role since his Wire days has been as the Episcopal priest Gabriel Stokes in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

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Clarke Peters

Peters wasn’t out of work for long. After his days playing Det. Lester Freamon ended, he joined The Wire castmate Wendell Pierce on the set of Treme. He currently has a minor role in WGN’s slave drama, Underground and appeared in Netflix’s comic-book drama, Jessica Jones and the British miniseries, Jericho According to Deadline, it was recently announced that Peters has been cast in Hulu’s new psychological thriller Chance.

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Domenick Lombardozzi

After his days as Det. Thomas “Herc” Hauk, Lombardozzi found bit roles guesting on shows like Daredevil and The Good Wife. He had a recurring role in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. In 2015, Lombardozzi joined the medical drama Rosewood playing–wait for it…a cop. That’s right, Lombardozzi plays embattled Miami Police Capt. Ira Hornstock on the show, which was recently picked up for a second season.

 

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Jim True-Frost

Has kept a low profile since his days as Det. Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski. He joined other Wire actors on Treme (are you noticing a theme here?) and had recurring roles in two short-lived series Hostages and American Odyssey, along with a few bit roles in shows like Blue Bloods and Law & Order: SVU since. It seems True-Frost has mainly been focusing on his family. In 2009, he and his wife, Cora, had their first child Leo, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and in 2011. they had their second child, a daughter named Phoebe Sylvia Rachel. True-Frost and his family live in Syracuse, N.Y. and in 2014 ,they all participated in an area school fundraiser to make the old playground handicap accessible.

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Robert Wisdom

Howard “Bunny” Colvin will always be best remembered for this speech. A man that can make that speech should be starring in every hit show on every major network because of the conviction it took to make that speech. It required all kinds of acting chops and not to mention the foresight to create “Hamsterdam.” Look, I don’t care if Bunny Colvin isn’t a real person; long live Bunny Colvin! Robert Wisdom on the other hand is making his way in television, including on shows Burn Notice, Chicago P.D. and Nashville. Most recently, he starred as a police officer named George in the Netflix series Flaked, but I can tell you this–George is no Bunny Colvin.

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Amy Ryan

Beatrice “Beadie” Russell goes from being a worn-out single mom working the docks as a Port Authority police officer to working a full-fledged homicide investigation all in season 2. Since the show, Ryan has appeared in movies Changeling, Win Win and Birdman (While on The Wire, Ryan had earned an Oscar nomination for her role as a drug-addicted mom in Gone Baby Gone). On television, she played reoccurring roles in NBC’s The Office and HBO’s In Treatment.

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Delaney Williams

Williams appeared in David Simon’s first HBO series The Corner, from there the Washington, D.C., actor starred as homicide sergeant Jay Landsman. Since The Wire, Williams has appeared on HBO’s Veep, CBS’ Cold Case, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Blue Bloods.

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Delaney Williams

Williams appeared in David Simon’s first HBO series The Corner, from there the Washington, D.C., actor starred as homicide sergeant Jay Landsman. Since The Wire, Williams has appeared on HBO’s Veep, CBS’ Cold Case, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Blue Bloods.


The Players

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Michael Kenneth Williams

Omar coming, yo! Omar Little might be the scariest fictional man to ever walk the streets of Baltimore; President Obama even called him, “the toughest, baddest guy on the show.” He was as complex, violent, cunning, calculated yet, equally intelligent and caring as any Shakespearean character. He lived by a code. He was also openly gay, making his character even more compelling as he challenged the idea of “gangster.” His presence sent drug dealers scrambling for cover. The Wire pushed Williams career into the stratosphere. He would go on to star in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and the biopic Bessie, about blues singer Bessie Smith. He’s also appeared in several movies including: 12 Years a Slave, Inherent Vice, The Gambler, Captive and Triple 9. He currently stars in Sundace’s Hap and Leonard and will appear in movies, Ghostbusters and Assassin’s Creed later this year.

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Fun facts: Tupac Shakur discovered Williams and cast him in Bullet. Years later, Williams discovered Felicia “Snoop” Pearson in a Baltimore nightclub. Williams would go on to executive produce Snow on Tha Bluff (which if you haven’t seen, go to Netflix and watch immediately and then message me on Twitter so we can argue about whether or not it’s fictional or an actual documentary.) Oh, and Williams reportedly can’t whistle, so his famous whistling of A Hunting We Will Go on The Wire was actually dubbed in during editing.

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Idris Elba

Elba came to The Wire as a lowly street beggar with saggy skin and brittle teeth. Sike! My innerhate for Elba is showing, but who are we kidding: Idris Elba came to The Wire as Idris Elba and he left the show as a bigger version of Idris Elba. His portrayal of Russell “Stringer” Bell, the kingpin with lofty ideas of making legit money was iconic. So much so that I’m sure I wasn’t the only one shocked to learn that he spoke with a British accent, making him a Brit! Totally didn’t see that coming since he owned the streets and the American accent while on the show. Elba has starred in everything since leaving the show, most notably starring as a troubled but relentless detective in Luther and a brutal militant leader in Beasts of No Nation. He’s even the voice of Chief Bogo in Zootopia and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book.

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Lawrence Gilliard Jr.

Born in New York but raised in Baltimore, Gillard was ripe for the role of D’Angelo Barksdale. Since then, Gilliard he has been one of several Wire alums to appear on The Walking Dead. Fun fact: He attended Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied classical music before switching to acting. His famous schoolmates were none other than Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac Shakur. He is married to actress Michelle Paress, who starred as reporter Alma Gutierrez in the show’s fifth season.

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J.D. Williams

Like most of the cast, The Wire was Williams’ big break. As Preston “Bodie” Broadus, Williams had the opportunity to work through myriad acting emotions as he worked his way up the drug-dealing ranks, right up until his character’s death. Since the show, Williams had a series of bit roles in TV shows and music videos. Not wanting to be pigeonholed as merely a gangster, Williams began taking roles that showed his range; he played a comedian in An American in Hollywood and a veteran with PTSD in Happy New Year. Currently he stars in Bounce TV’s Saints & Sinners.

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Andre Royo

Royo burst on the scene as drug addict Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins. His role was iconic. His acting was heroic. Since then, Royo has kept busy starring in several movies and television roles. In 2015 alone, he starred in Marvel’s Agent Carter, Showtime’s short-lived but much loved Happyish and Amazon Prime’s Hand of God. If you miss Bubbles, you can see the sober and more notorious version as Thirsty Rawlings on Fox’s Empire.

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Hassan Johnson

Johnson might as well have been Roland “Wee-Bey” Brice long before he became Wee-Bey. In 1995, Johnson walked off a Staten Island street and onto the set of Spike Lee’s Clockers. He would also star in In Too Deep, Belly and TV series New York Undercover and NYPD Blue. Each appearance was grooming him for the Wee-Bay he became. Since The Wire, Johnson has continued his work in film with Brother’s Blood and Guns and Grams set for 2016. Fun fact: Johnson was the voice of Harold “Stretch” Joseph in the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto V video game.

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Jamie Hector

Who can forget Hector’s portrayal as Marlo Stanfield, the quietest and arguably most ruthless drug kingpin on the show? Since running the fictional streets of West Baltimore, the Haitian-born actor has had bit roles in major television shows including Law and Order. In 2007 he was featured as a villain on the third season of NBC’s Heroes. Outside of acting, Hector founded Moving Mountains, a non-profit that provides “intensive training in all areas of entertainment and then spotlighting their development through dramatic productions.” Currently, Hector is the co-star of Amazon Prime’s Bosch and will play Tupac’s stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, in All Eyez on Me, which is set to begin filming in 2016.

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Felicia Pearson

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson probably wasn’t the only actor on The Wire who wasn’t really acting. Minus the killing, Snoop Pearson the fictional character wasn’t that far off from Felicia Pearson the real person. In fact, horror writer Stephen King wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the TV Snoop is “perhaps the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series.” And, that was part of the actress’ problem finding non-gangster roles once the series was over. In 2007, Pearson told The Washington Post that she was taking acting classes trying to lose her Baltimore accent, maybe lose some of the tough ways that sent her to prison at 16 for murder. In 2011, Pearson was arrested in a drug raid at her Baltimore home after a prosecutor claimed she bankrolled a heroin operation. She was sentenced to a suspended seven-year prison term, with credit for time served, and given three years of supervised probation. She has appeared in Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and Chi-Raq. Pearson starred in the 2016 Guns and Gram with Wire co-star J.D. Williams.

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Gbenga Akinnagbe

Chris Partlow was a compelling character. He was seasoned, measured and calm. He was also one of the most murderous characters on the show. Good thing he’s fictional. Since his days playing Marlo Stanfield’s right hand, Akinnagbe has done several stage performances appeared in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. He has done several guest spots on popular shows including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Nurse Jackie. Akinnagbe last appeared in a reoccurring role in USA’s Graceland. Fun Fact: Akinnagbe is the cousin of rapper Wale.

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Robert F. Chew

Before coming to the show, Chew worked at the Baltimore’s Arena Players, where he taught and mentored child and young adult actors. After coming to the show in the iconic role as Joseph “Proposition Joe” Stewart, Chew worked with many of the non-actors on the show, including the children who starred in season 4. In 2013, Chew died of a heart attack. “Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore,” David Simon, the show’s creator told the Baltimore Sun after Chew’s death. “He could have gone to New York or Los Angeles and commanded a lot more work, but he loved the city as his home and chose to remain here working.”

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Anwan Glover

Before he was Slim Charles on the show, Anwan Glover was known around Washington, D.C. as Big G, lead rapper/talker of the go-go band Backyard. Glover was one of the actors on the show whose real life came really close to his character. In real life, Glover had been shot some 13 times. In 2007, his younger brother was shot and killed in the Columbia Heights section of D.C. In 2011, his son, then a senior in high school, was shot at party. In 2014, Glover was stabbed at nightclub. After every act of violence, Glover, who is a huge player in the Nation’s Capitol’s movement to stop the violence, came out against retaliation. Shortly after being released from the hospital in 2014, Glover posted, “I am not a stranger to adversity and when shown hate, I’m going to spread love. I am recovering and will be back soon. My flesh may be stabbed but my spirit is unbreakable.” Since his role on The Wire, Glover appeared in Treme and the award-winning 12 Years A Slave. He currently works as a radio personality on station 93.9 WKYS and still raps with the Backyard. Listen here.

 

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Wood Harris

Harris played Stringer Bell’s partner, Avon Barksdale. Since the show, Harris was cast in Sweetwater as Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, a movie about the first black player in the NBA, which is slated to be released in 2017. He also reconnected with his Wire cast mate Michael B. Jordan in Creed.

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Michael Potts

Brother Mouzone was easily the toughest man with perfect diction and a mean bowtie collection. This confrontation alone speaks volumes. Potts would go on to appear in a reoccurring role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the first season of HBO’s True Detective. He also appeared in the David Simon’s critically acclaimed Show Me a Hero.

 

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Chad L. Coleman

Coleman is currently know for three things: his role as Dennis “Cutty” Wise on The Wire, his role as Tyrese on Walking Dead and this wild rant on a New York subway. He currently stars in Syfy’s The Expanse.

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Melvin Williams

Williams played a sensible, wise, God-loving “Deacon” on The Wire. In real-life Williams was a Baltimore drug legend who at one point claimed he made “a couple hundred million” dollars trafficking heroin in the 1970s and 80s. Before joining The Wire, he was serving a 22-year sentence for a parole violation in 1999 after he pistol-whipped a man over a $500 debt. He was released in 2003 after a judge reduced his sentence. BET featured Williams on its American Gangster series in 2009. Williams was also the subject of one of first profiles written by The Wire creator David Simon, who was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun at the time. Williams died Dec. 3, 2015 from cancer.

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Michael B. Jordan

Who can forget Wallace? Since The Wire, Jordan has gone on to Hollywood success after his breakout role in the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station. Since then, he starred in The Fantastic Four and Creed. Jordan will star in the upcoming movies Wrong Answer, directed by Ryan Coolger (Fruitvale, Creed) a remake of The Thomas Crown Affair and will portray Bryan Stevenson, in the biopic Just Mercy.

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Tray Chaney

Before his role as Malik “Poot” Carr on The Wire, Chaney was always into music. He appeared on Showtime at the Apollo hip-hop dancing his way to four straight first-place finishes. Since The Wire, Chaney has continued his musical career exploring his talents as a rapper. Currently, he appears with his Wire cast mate J.D. Williams on Bounce TV’s Saints & Sinners. Fun fact: Chaney and Big Daddy Kane have a serendipitous connection. Hear him tell the story here.

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Chris Bauer

I don’t what it is about Bauer’s aurora but its like he was born to play the straight-ahead character with a secret. In the often overlooked Season 2, Bauer’s Frank Sobotka was as conniving as any of the drug lords. Since the show, he’s played Sherriff Andy Bellefleur on the HBO hit True Blood. Recently, he starred as Det. Tom Lange in FX’s The People vs. O.J. and has a reoccurring role as Jimmy Flaherty, the owner of a basketball team in the LeBron James’ created and produced, Survivor’s Remorse.

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Pablo Schreiber

Before Schreiber was the shady guard, George “Pornstache” Mendez, on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, he was Nick Sobotka, nephew of “in-too-deep” longshoreman Frank Sobotka on The Wire. Currently, Schreiber is set to star in movies The Moon and the Sun, Traces and Big Bear.

 

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Method Man

It could have been a really bad move adding a rapper to such a talented group of real-life street toughs, but Method Man showed why he isn’t just a rapper. As Calvin “Cheese” Wagstaff, the nephew of Prop Joe, who runs Joe’s Baltimore operation as a New Yorker, Cheese shows that he doesn’t back down to anyone except, of course, Brother Mouzone. Since the show, Method Man is still one of the pillars in the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and as an actor, he had a bit role in The Sitter and joined Wire castmates Tristan Wilds and Michael B. Jordan in Red Tails.


The Kids

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Jermaine Crawford

Who would have guessed at that Duquan “Dukie” Weems would grow up to be an R&B crooner? While Dukie’s fate seemed pretty grim by the show’s end, Crawford has gone on to release music; listen here. Crawford hasn’t done much acting since his Wire days, with only a few bit roles in TV series’ The Unusuals and Person of Interest. In 2014, he appeared in the movie Cru.

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Tristan Wilds

Wild left his dark character, Michael Lee, back on the streets of Baltimore and moved over to plush fictional Beverly Hills of CW’s 90210, where he starred as Dixon Wilson until the show’s end in 2013. In 2009, he starred in Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. He appeared alongside famed actress Phylicia Rashad on stage in Stockholm Brooklyn and Wool. In 2013, under the his rap name, “Mack Wilds” he released New York: A Love Story. In 2015, Wilds guested as the love interest in the video for Adele’s smash hit Hello. In 2016, Wilds starred in VH1’s TV movie, The Breaks, and his sophomore album is slated for release later this year.

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Julito McCullum

McCullum, who played Namond Brice, has been busy since the show’s end. He’s appeared in episodes of Law and Order, Law and Order Criminal Intent, Blue Bloods, Madam Secretary and David Simon’s Show Me A Hero.

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Maestro Harrell

Since his days Randy Wagstaff, Harrell has appeared in several TV shows including, Meet the Browns, Lie to Me and CSI: NY. He played Malik on the show Suburgatory from 2011-2014 and had a small role in Fear the Walking Dead.


The Politicians

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Aidan Gillen

Gillen played Councilman and Mayor Thomas “Tommy” Carcetti. Since The Wire, Gillen has appeared in several movies and can be seen flexing a different kind of diplomatic muscle as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

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 Isiah Whitlock Jr.

State Sen. R. Clayton “Clay” Davis is best know for his one-word catchphrase; there is even a Clay Davis bobblehead doll that spouts said catch phrase. And, here Whitlock is trying to get actor Jamie Hector (Marlo Stansfield) to help sell them. Since The Wire, Whitlock had recurring roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and HBO’s Veep. Whitlock has also made appearances on The Good Wife, Louie and Gotham.

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Reg E. Cathey

Since playing political operative Norman Wilson, Cathey has gone on to star as Freddy Hayes, the owner of Freddy’s BBQ, in Neflix’s House of Cards, which earned him an Emmy win for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. He’s also had a recurring role in Grimm and Horace and Pete. Cathey will also star as boxing promoter Don King in the upcoming drama Hands of Stone.