When Jamie Hector heard the true story of the dirty cops at the heart of the new HBO limited series “We Own This City,” it wasn’t the corruption that surprised him.
“What surprised me was how well-documented it was,” Hector told Variety.
“We Own This City” is based on Justin Fenton’s book of the same name. It tells the true story of the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force, who routinely robbed drug dealers and citizens alike while also re-selling drugs they confiscated on the job. The show reunited Hector with David Simon and George Pelecanos, the creators of “We Own This City” with whom Hector previously worked with during his time playing the brilliant, ruthless drug dealer Marlo Stanfield on “The Wire.”
“When I read the book, it blew me away, and it blew me away because it’s like, ‘OK, this has been happening. This is nothing new,’” Hector said. “But it was to the degree that these guys did it, and then it was the source material that Justin was able to capture and people that he was able to interview — and the fact that he was able to pull in that they were investigated, and wiretapped and tracked. Now you’re like, ‘Oh, well, so all of this is bonafide true…You’re doing all of this under the badge.’ So that really surprised me. Just the fact that it was so well documented, and also that they paid the price for it.”
Hector said he had just finished playing an LAPD detective for seven seasons on Amazon’s “Bosch” when Pelecanos reached out about playing Det. Sean Suiter in the new series.
“Out the gate when George calls you, David calls you, Nina [Noble, executive producer] calls you, without question it’s already a go, right? Because I know they’re gonna put out quality material. I know they’re gonna do a great job with the materials and the stories that they tell.”
Hector said that, despite the fact he was playing a real person in this series, he approaches all his roles in the same way in terms of his preparation. The difference here was the fact that he had so much access to footage and audio of Suiter to pull from as well as conversations with people who knew him.
“So instead of just creating a backstory for him, he already existed,” he said. “It allowed me to approach his life in a way that was hopefully authentic to him.”
The show also touches on many issues in modern policing that “The Wire” called out 20 years ago, yet they remain serious problems to this day.
“It’s sad that you can have these systemic issues 15 years ago, 20 years ago, 100 years ago, and it’s still embedded in the system and our life,” Hector said. “And it just goes to show you if you ignore it, these are results of ignoring giving any institution, especially law enforcement, absolute power.”
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