The Wire: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Bubbles

by Top Film Tip

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Film & TV

Andre Royo, or Dre to his mates, is best known for his portrayal of homeless addict and police informant Bubbles in the astonishingly popular and groundbreaking HBO TV series The Wire. Here are 6 things you might not know about him, in his own words.

 The Mayor of Baltimore tried to sabotage production on The Wire

“The Mayor hated us because he thought we made Baltimore look bad. He told the cops to come down on us for anything: jay walking, resisting arrest, loitering. People got arrested, production was postponed sometimes coz people were locked up; people went missing for a couple of days at a time. But it was a crazy time, it was amazing, the most exhilarating moment of my life.”

He worked the door at NYC’s infamous Cheetah Club

“The Cheeta Club was a hot spot you know, Biggie Smalls and other rappers would reference it. But I wasn’t a bouncer, I was the clipboard holding loudmouth saying “you can get in, you can’t, you gotta go home and change”. I got into a couple of fights because of it but I also became that guy people know in the city. People would see me at some place, at the club, but then see me on TV doing bit parts, so I became a kinda staple in Manhattan nightlife.”

It was on the door that he got his acting break

“John Singleton (director) was in New York and he was dating a girl I knew. I met him while I was working the door at the Cheeta Club, he liked my vibe and asked me to come in and audition. I didn’t get the part because the producer didn’t like my look – But for some reason the other actor didn’t work out and I got a call offering me the part.

That was monumental for me, I was the first one in my crew who was part of a major blockbuster movie and it connected me with my parents. They grew up on the original Shaft so it had that old school/ new school connection. After that people saw me as one of those actors who was going to the next level”.

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He almost turned down the role of Bubbles

“In my mind, there were two problems: 1) I didn’t want to play stereotypical character, it could be the kiss of death for my up and coming career and 2) I didn’t think I could do better than what I’d already seen and as an artist, if you don’t think you can do better than what has already been done then why bother?

Luckily I had a strong manager, he said ‘they’re not offering you the part, they’re offering you an audition. Come in and do it’. I met them, and realised that it felt like something different, they weren’t trying to be general cop show and they were making sure that no one came across as a gimmick.”

He thought people would hate The Wire

“There was a lot of talking in our show, nothing really happens in the first episode. When we saw the pilot some of the cast fell asleep, some of us were like- yo, this is boring. We thought people would hate us. We were shocked when HBO picked up the first ten episodes. It was only by the 3rd or 4th episode that we realised it was something different.”

“I remember going to David Simon and saying ‘they hate us, what will we do? We need more sex and killing!’ He was very confident and said that he wasn’t going to dumb down to the audience. He said people like to be educated while they are entertained and they will appreciate it later on down the road.”

People thought he was really homeless while filming

“It happened all the time! I remember going to craft services and taking some candy and security chased me down the block and tried to kick my a** yelling “get outta here!!”

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About the Author

Top Film Tip

Born out of boredom with ubiquitous unoriginal films and tired of malcontent critics who are too cool to enjoy movies, an underground team of exhuberant film fanatics assembled @TopFilmTip to help spread the joy of all the awesome free films airing on TV amongst fellow film fans frequenting Twitter. When they get they chance, they also interview the most innovative actors in the game.....

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Your Comments

  • Nick Watt

    I first met Tony while working for the NME in the mid 1980s. I was lucky enough to attend the New Music Seminar (NMS) conference run by Tommy Boy’s Tom Silverman in New York every year, and Tony was always one my guaranteed dates for lunch, except I usually ended up paying!! However, in 1990 Tony called me to ask me out to lunch while in New York (and he was paying). He also dropped into the conversation that he wanted me to meet a women, I enquired if he’s started an escort agency in the Big Apple?! On the appointed day Tony came to my room in the Marriott Marquis, where the conference was been held, and yes, he did have a rather beautiful woman in toe, Yvette Livsey, who would be Tony’s partner till he taken from us in 2007. Over lunch Tony and Yvette explained that he wanted to launch his own version of the NMS called In The City in Manchester, and could I get NME to help support the venture. This was the start of what turned out to be an amazing and sometimes rollercoster relationship with Anthony H. I went from being a supporter of the event to helping him run Interactive City the digital spin off of ITC, and then on running all the Interactive panels at ITC for 3 or 4 years. There are too many highlights to post hear, but two that stick in the mind, include Seymour Stein’s birthday dinner in Chinatown with the great and the good form the UK record business. This was however topped by hilarious lunch in Carluccio’s Restaurant in Charlotte St where he recounted his journey to Peru with porn-model Jo Guest and actress Meera Syal where he had to take ayahuasca in the Amazon Jungle, to the delight (or disgust) of most of the people sitting near us! I spent some amazing times with Tony, he was not only an inspiration buy a great mentor, and is sadly missed. He’s probably at the great gig in the sky, still arguing with Hannett and Gretton, and putting his fatherly arm around Ian Cutis’ shoulder. Miss him dearly, what a great great man…