New film brings `Wire' actors back to city

November 10, 2006|By Brooke Nevils | Brooke Nevils,Sun Reporter

Actors Wood Harris and J.D. Williams, best known as Avon Barksdale and Preston "Bodie" Broadus on the HBO series The Wire, are back on the streets of Baltimore this week, filming another gritty depiction of the city's drug scene.

But don't be fooled. It's not The Wire.

It's the Hollywood adaptation of A Thug's Life, Baltimore native Thomas Long's debut novel about two partners-turned-rivals in a brutal west-side drug gang, Dogs for Life.

4 Life, the direct-to-DVD movie from Tony Austin, the president of Russell Simmons Music Group, and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas began filming its Baltimore segments this week, on location at the Sandtown Barber Shop, the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill Park. Austin, a Baltimore native, and Thomas are friends and next-door neighbors in Owings Mills and partnered in January to create Watch Me Now Films.

Austin discovered the project during a chance meeting in early summer with Long at their local gym.

"He knew I was with Russell Simmons, and he says he just wrote a book that would make a great movie, and I said I was about to get into movies," says Austin, the film's executive producer. "So I read the book during the five-hour flight back to L.A., and it was phenomenal."

4 Life began filming in Los Angeles at the beginning of October, starring Harris and Williams of The Wire - also set (and filmed) in Baltimore.

"Wood is great in The Wire, but that's not why we wanted him," Austin says. "We picked him for his acting abilities. We saw him in Paid in Full, Remember the Titans and playing Jimi Hendrix - the guy's just amazing."

"And J.D. Williams was a great added addition from The Wire, along with Elise Neal from Hustle and Flow," he says. "We've got an all-star cast."

Austin and his co-director, Hakim, expect to wrap up filming today, finishing exterior shots in West Baltimore and Sandtown.

4 Life is scheduled for release to DVD in May.

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