Who is the Philadelphia-born actor who played Detective Vernon Holley on HBO’s much-loved The Wire?
If you answered “Brian Anthony Wilson,” then you are probably ready for an evening of Wire-themed Quizzo at London Grill on Monday.
What’s more, you’ll probably outperform Wilson, a Philly native, who will host that night’s Quizzo showdown. As the actor says, he has only seen about three or four episodes of the show all the way through. The Wire concluded a much-lauded five-season run on HBO in 2008.
“I will not claim to be an expert,” Wilson, 57, says. “I was just blessed and fortunate to be on the show.”
In addition to Quizzo, London Grill will also run Baltimore-themed specials in honor of The Wire’s setting. Attendees will be able to get $4 beers, $5 Baltimore Orange Crush cocktails (orange vodka, vanilla vodka and orange juice), and Baltimore-style crab cakes, crab cake sandwiches and Old Bay-seasoned fries.
Wilson appeared in nearly 20 episodes of the show as Detective Holley, the Baltimore Police Department’s most intimidating homicide investigator. Fans, of course, may remember him as one of the detectives who helped solve the murder of Brandon Wright, boyfriend of series favorite Omar Little, in the show’s first season.
Wilson these days calls Cherry Hill home, where he lives with his wife and 9-year-old daughter. Currently, he is performing in a one-man show at Olney, Md.’s Olney Theatre Center called Thurgood, about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice of the Supreme Court.
Locally, Wilson will next appear in a series of shows at People’s Light Theater in Malvern. There, he will have roles in Aladdin: A Musical Panto (Nov. 15 to Jan 7), The Diary of Anne Frank (Feb. 21 to March 31) and Romeo and Juliet: A Requiem (April 25 to May 27) starting in November. He also has a number of television projects in the works, including the Freeform channel’s Siren, a show about “badass mermaids,” as Wilson says, in which the actor will appear as a fisherman.
Despite The Wire having been off the air for nearly a decade now, the show still endures in its popularity. For Wilson, that comes back to a couple things — aside from the fact that creator “David Simon is a genius,” as Wilson says.
“It spoke to a lot of generations who were happy to see themselves on screen,” Wilson says. “It also showed you these drug dealers were real people. Sometimes they were better than the cops. They had feelings.”
Wilson’s Det. Holley, he says, also has feelings — ones that he would like to see fulfilled on screen should The Wire ever make a return to the airwaves. After all, fans mostly got glimpses of Holley’s gruff demeanor on the series’ initial run, and the guy has got to be a little more complicated than that.
“Hopefully he would be married and have some love scenes on the show,” Wilson says. “His job, his work was pretty much all he had back then. I hope the best for him because I miss him.”
'The Wire' Quizzo
8 p.m. Monday, London Grill, 2301 Fairmount Ave., free, 215-978-4545, www.londongrill.com