It’s with rare exception that a television show can be transformative and provide social value in addition to entertaining its viewers. The Wire and its gritty portrayal of the many facets of culture in Baltimore, Maryland is one that not only met that standard but comfortably cleared the bar. Still my favorite show by far, it’s always a pleasure to reconnect with it in any way possible. When a recent opportunity became available to chat with former cast member Kwame Patterson, you better believe I jumped at the chance.
Although this is a baseball; blog, this isn’t the first time The Wire has been a topic covered within these hallowed web pages. Earlier in the year, actor Tray Chaney discussed his experiences with the production, and now I have the pleasure of adding a conversation with Patterson to my archives.
Patterson appeared in 17 episodes of The Wire as hardened street soldier Monk Metcalf. His character was a stark representation of how the streets can consume and strip away humanity. In a world lacking structure and hope, Monk’s ability to find purpose, no matter how negative the environment, shows what can happen when life options are so limited. In a cast of memorable characters, he resonates as much as anyone.
Although The Wire is what Patterson is best known for, he has been working steadily in Hollywood for a decade. He has appeared in other popular productions like The Shield, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Ray Donovan among other projects.
Keep reading to see what Patterson had to say about his time working on The Wire.
Kwame Patterson Interview:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up.: I grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey till I was about 16, then I moved to Baltimore, and that is where I grew up until I move to L.A. in 2006.
How did you land the role of Monk Metcalf, and were you given any hand or did you lend any personal experience or research in helping create his persona/personality?: I was asked to come in and audition for Pat Mornan Casting, and when I originally booked the role, I didn’t have a character name, it was just “lieutenant #1.” I was only supposed to be in one episode but after shooting my first episode, I received a phone call from Pat Moran Casting saying ‘how would you like to be a regular character,’ and Monk Metcalf was born.
My personal experience in playing a role like Monk Metgalf was easy because I grew up in the streets of Jersey and Baltimore. I won’t get into details about my past but it’s the reason my character became bigger and so well loved.
Season 4 of The Wire is roundly seen as the series' best. What do you think it is about this that resounded so much with viewers?: Season four hit so close to home because it really shed light on what our inner city youth from Baltimore were really going through. It was so well written and the young kids who they signed on to bring these words to life, truly did…Shout out to Jermaine Crawford, Julito McCullum, Maestro Harrell and Tristan Wilds.
How frequently do you hear from people regarding your involvement in the show and the impact it has had on them? Also, do you encounter many people who have a hard time distinguishing Kwame Patterson the person from Monk Metcalf the character?: I hear from people all the time, from fans to friends to industry people. And people can definitely distinguish the difference between Kwame Patterson and Monk Metcalf. I get told all the time that before they met me in person they would have been scared to meet me in an alley, but once they meet me they’re like ‘you’re so cool and down to earth.’
Your character's confrontation with Cutty in Season 4 is one of the show's more memorable scenes? How did you go about preparing for that?: That was definitely probably one of my favorite scenes to do. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs that night; plenty of outtakes that were never seen.
What was your favorite scene or moment on the show?: Shooting Cutty in the leg…. LOL
What do you believe is the lasting legacy and impact of the show?: I believe The Wire, when it’s all said and done, will go down in history as one of the greatest shows ever to be written on TV, and people will still be talking about this show long after me and you are gone.
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