Jamie Hector: Calming Force, Pt 1

With only one season under his belt, Marlo Stanfield all but took over prime street corners in HBO’s#### series The Wire. Brooklyn-born actor Jamie Hector plays the sadistically driven drug lord who quickly riveted Wire fans already captivated by the show’s authentic portrayal of urban street affairs. But from Hector’s amicable demeanor recently at Barnes […]

With only one season under his belt, Marlo Stanfield all but took over prime street corners in HBO’s#### series The Wire. Brooklyn-born actor Jamie Hector plays the sadistically driven drug lord who quickly riveted Wire fans already captivated by the show’s authentic portrayal of urban street affairs. But from Hector’s amicable demeanor recently at Barnes & Noble on a balmy New York City afternoon, you could never tell his character incurs more damage on Baltimore’s West Side than DMX behind the wheel. As much as Marlo has become a threat in his neighborhood, Hector remains committed to influencing young lives with his volunteer work and participation in panel discussions on inner city crime. An active member of Terrie Williams’ inspirational Stay Strong Foundation, Hector is not only here to support the author’s new book, he is dishing out sound advice to a small cluster of adolescents in a cozy corner of the bookstore. When one girl explains her trouble learning English, Hector reassures her, recalling the difficulty his parents experienced as Haitian immigrants to America. Growing up in Crown Heights and Flatbush, Hector faced destructive influences but opted for the road less traveled by enrolling in college while scoring roles on established series like Law & Order and Oz. His filmography notably includes Clockers, Paid in Full and He Got Game.


After touching a few impressionable young minds at B&N, Hector sat down with AllHipHop.com Alternatives to relive his experience on The Wire, recently renewed for a fourth season, and discussed his remarkable voyage from his real life Brooklyn streets to the fictional streets of Baltimore. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Let’s talk about the show. This previous third season being your first, can you sum up your experience, having also being a fan of the show before you came on? Jamie Hector: It was an extraordinary journey, it was beautiful. And as far as the character that they gave me, [Marlo] is a character I’m sure a lot of people would like to portray—quiet, takes care of business, and takes no jacks. He’s on the money. What he says goes. And a lot of people would definitely like the way he lives his life. Some people live it for real and they don’t last too long. The thing about it is I didn’t receive all of the scripts at once. You get the script for the show like a week before the [taping]. So for every episode, you get a script. AHHA: Really, so you don’t know what’s going to happen down the road? Jamie: Nah, we don’t know. It’s cool because it’s kind of organic, so to speak. AHHA: It’s kind of like you’re living it. Jamie: Exactly. AHHA: I think what people love about The Wire is the complexity of the characters and the rich story lines. Why were you a fan of the show before you came on? Jamie: Because there’s no character on there that’s one-dimensional. Everyone changes. And there are not too many scripts out there for actors that are really good. On some shows, actors portray [characters] that are just one-dimensional. And basically when I watch [The Wire] I’m just like, “Wow, Stringer Bell has depth.” Even Omar. I mean, you’re gonna hate him, but you gotta love the kid because he just does it.


I have to give props and shouts out to [Producer] Ed Burns and [Executive Producer] Nina K. Noble, the creator David Simon, [writer] George Pelecanos, Bob Colesberry, as well as HBO because when they audition [actors] for these roles, they don’t come short. It’s like they’re not gonna stop until they find the person they’re gonna get on that screen. I think there were about 175 people auditioning before I got picked, and at the same time it was still a vigorous process. It’s ill. AHHA: What attracted you to this particular role of Marlo? Jamie: I actually went for Cutty [a reformed drug dealer]. But then they were like, “you’re just too young for Cutty.” [Laughs] I was given sides [a portion of the script used for an audition] of Cutty to go and read for, so I prepared for that. And when I went in there they changed it on me at the last minute at the audition process. They gave me [Marlo’s] sides and I had to go back out, work with those and go back in.


I’m just attracted to the show. To be a part of the show is great. And I knew they weren’t going to come short—the writers, the directing. Even the artwork on the show is authentic, it’s real. And it’s on HBO, too. [Laughs] It’s on HBO, it’s a beautiful thing. So I thought to be a part of this would be a privilege. AHHA: Since Marlo is so vicious, he gets a lot of reaction from viewers, but have you come to a point where you can play him comfortably? Jamie: I’ve come to the point where I can play him as the character goes along. AHHA: Are there ever any scenes that are difficult for you to shoot? Jamie: I don’t know if it’s really difficult, I just know that when you zone out into what you’re doing then hopefully it just comes easy, God willing. I mean, I wouldn’t call it difficult. I would just call it a challenge, no matter what it is that you have to do, because you don’t want to just memorize your lines. I’ve come to a point where I have the tools that I use in order to prepare for the role and zone out into that world right there. AHHA: Being from Brooklyn, are there any real life people you draw Marlo from? Jamie: I mean, I don’t draw him from clowns. In my experience in BK, whoever knows Brooklyn knows the experience is real. So everybody can just be the judge, you tell me. Everybody knows Brooklyn. We got the best that came out of there—Jay-Z, Biggie, Tyson. None of them came from popcorn upbringings. AHHA: How did you get into acting? Jamie: I worked with a theater company called Tomorrow’s Future Theater Company, directed by my manager, who’s a writer also. I was introduced to the theater company by a friend of mine in Brooklyn, so we traveled all around the country doing shows and everything. And in doing so, I graduated from small parts on stage to actually carrying the lead parts on stage. And from there I said, “You know what, this is real.” I went over and I decided to go study at Lee Strasberg Theater Institute because I was like, “if you’re gonna do it let’s do it for real.” AHHA: It’s interesting that you still study there. Jamie: Yes, as a matter of fact I have class tonight. AHHA: That’s kind of rare for actors to keep learning their craft while acting professionally. Jamie: Well, I’m a firm believer that—if you play ball, you never stop practicing. And whatever other activity you’re doing or commit to, you don’t really ever stop practicing. You’re exercising the soul. But some people feel like you don’t need to exercise the soul when it comes to acting. You feel like you can just pick the script up and read lines. Hey, some people can do it, and some people want to just fall back and get into it. So my feeling is that whatever it is you’re doing you need to always practice it. AHHA: Since Avon Barksdale is in jail now, people are expecting Marlo to play a bigger role. If you were to write the next few episodes, what would Marlo’s game plan be? Jamie: He’s very unpredictable, but his game plan would be as real as possible because what goes down goes down. I would love to see the truth take place. [Pause] Let me sit on that question. I probably wouldn’t write anything, because I wouldn’t want to mess it up. I just want to tell it and breathe life into the character. AHHA: Everybody has their own reasons for why Stringer Bell had to be killed at the end of the last season. What’s your take on why Stringer had to die? Jamie: Because, like I said, the truth has to be told. And the real truth was that duke was grimy. I mean, he was a businessman and I respect that and he was one of the few that wanted to step out the game. But it’s like, in the streets the minute you want to get up out the game they’re gonna take you off the planet. One way or the other they’re gonna try to put you behind metal or, straight up, they’re gonna kill you, take you off the planet. So that’s what happened to him.


Look at the things he was doing. People loved him [Idris Elba] because of his looks, and they also loved the character that he was playing. He was getting money on the streets and he was a businessman. He was able to just take that money and flip it. But the truth really is that he slept with [D’Angelo’s] girl. What else did he do…?