Aptly named Proposition Joe on the series — the kingpin had a penchant for grandiloquent language — Chew appeared in all five seasons of HBO’s critically beloved drama. The actor also starred in other Simon-led projects like The Corner and Homicide: Life on the Street, but gained most attention as Proposition Joe, a physically imposing character based on a real drug dealer in Baltimore who thrived in the 1980s.
Though Chew played a drug kingpin on the small screen, the actor was anything but menacing off-screen. When not filming, Chew donated his time to Baltimore’s Arena Players, where he mentored children interested in the arts. Some of his students even appeared on Season 4 of The Wire, according to the Sun.
“He could have gone to New York or Los Angeles and commanded a lot more work, but he loved the city as his home and chose to remain here working,” Simon said in a statement released Friday to the Sun. “The Wire cast was an embarrassment of riches and it was easy, I think, for outsiders to overlook some of those who were so essential as supporting players. Robert’s depiction of Proposition Joe was so fixed and complete — from the very earliest scenes — that the writers took for granted that anything we sent him would be finely executed.”
Remember how Chew could chat with this somewhat NSFW clip featuring Proposition Joe.
[Image Credit: HBO]