<i>The Wire</i> Star Tristan Wilds Talks About the End of a TV Era

Tristan Wilds is a bonafide heartthrob. At the tender age of 18 (he's legal now, in case you're keeping track), this dominicano has stolen the hearts of viewers playing part time drug dealer/hit man Michael Lee on HBO's The Wire. As us fan(atics) try to get used to the idea that our Sundays will never be the same since the best show on television was put to rest last night. We take a moment to reminisce with and see what’s up next for one of our most beloved characters.

R.I.P.: The Wire (June 2002-March 2008)

So how are you dealing with all of the attention you’re getting now, especially from the girls?

It’s weird because I’ve never been one to be outspoken around the ladies. I’m a shy kid. And for girls to just come up to me—I’m just not used to it. I used to be a geek, one of those kids on the couch doing his homework. The attention is breaking me out of my shell a bit.

The show gets so much love, do you ever encounter any negativity from people?

It’s a lot cooler than I thought. People would always say watch out for those haters but then I go out into the street and everybody is like, ‘Yo, man I love your work kid!’ And all I can say to anybody who watches is thank you. Thank you for giving this Dominican boy a chance.

So are people surprised, when you tell them that you’re Dominican?

No, if I tell someone, ‘Yo, I’m Dominican.’ They’ll be like, ‘I knew your hair was too straight when you cut it.’ [Laughs]

So what’s your favorite thing about being Latin?

Everything. The food, the music. But oh, the food. When I hear my mother’s cooking I run home. Even if I’m in Baltimore, I’m on the phone like, ‘What you cooking? Arroz con pollo?’ I’m there. Me and my family get together during Christmas and we listen to R&B, hip hop and carrolls or whatever but when that Spanish music comes on everybody gets up and starts dancing, doing the merengue. I love it because it just shows the spirit of family.

Speaking of family, it was so hard to watch the separation of you and Dukie and Bug in episode 9. What was it like to film those scenes?

Everything you saw onscreen was real. Even though it wasn’t the last episode we felt each other separating. They’d yell ‘CUT!’ And me and Dukie [Jermaine Crawford] would be like, “don’t cry man, don’t cry!” It took so much to do that scene. Just these two kids that have been together since the beginning sitting in the car reminiscing thinking about all the good times we had while we were shooting. The directors just let it flow--as real as possible, that’s what they look for.

So where do you see your character Michael in 10 years?

Well, he would be 25 years old, still living in Baltimore and on a path where he won’t have to question his conscience.

And Tristan, what’s next for him?

I have an independent film that should be coming out this year with Roger Guenveur Smith [Malcolm X, American Gangster] and Gbenga [Akinnagbe, who plays Chris Partlow on The Wire] called Indelible. And I just finished The Secret Life of Bees starring Dakota Fanning, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and the list goes on.

How does it feel to work with such big names?

It’s just huge. Honestly, all I can do is thank God every day. I mean I kiss my cross every time they say, ‘Hey you got another job.’ It feels good that these big name actors respect my work enough to call me one of their peers.

And I hear you’re also working on music and planning on going to college at NYU?

Yeah, I sing and I rap. I’m recording some things now, just trying to touch on a little bit of everything. But yes, NYU is at the top of my list of colleges.

After all this stellar work you’ve done on The Wire, how do you feel about the show getting shunned by the award shows almost every year?

It’s irritating but you know it’s going to happen. It’s like if you have a bad kid and he comes home with F’s all the time. You know he’s going to come home with F’s but it’s still irritating every time. You wish something would change but it doesn’t. We can talk for days about why we don’t even get a nod but I guess sometimes things can be too real for some people to respect.