Why The Actors On HBO's The Deuce Look So Familiar
Where You've Seen the Stars of The Deuce Before
HBO's The Deuce, starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, is one of the most acclaimed new shows of the fall. It's a sprawling ensemble drama set in the diverse milieu of '70s Times Square, a space ripe for exploration by creators David Simon and George Pelecanos. With so many substantial roles to fill, it's clear producers turned to those who succeeded on the network before. In addition to many Simon alums, there are popular faces from True Blood, The Night Of, The Leftovers, and much more. Wondering where you've seen all these actors before? Read on to see why The Deuce is the most HBO show of all time.
Lawrence Gilliard Jr., The Wire
Gilliard Jr. is now on the other side of the law in The Deuce, as the wearied but good-hearted Chris Alston. He received wide acclaim for his breakout turn in The Wire, David Simon’s most famed show, as D’Angelo Barksdale — arguably the tragic hero of the esteemed drama’s first few seasons.
Margarita Levieva, How to Make It in America
Best known for her role as the “real” Emily Thorne on Revenge, Levieva plays a sharp, well-off NYU dropout on The Deuce who’s steadily drawn into the Times Square scene. She was previously introduced to HBO audiences in How to Make it in America, where she played Bryan Greenberg’s girlfriend, Julie.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Strip Search
Gyllenhaal’s generating raves for her leading role as Candy in The Deuce, an independent sex worker of an entrepreneurial bent. Yet while she’s new to TV, she does have another (obscure) HBO credit to her name: the controversial Sidney Lumet telefilm Strip Search. The film was a post-9/11 exploration of civil liberties, with Gyllenhaal playing a student detained and aggressively interrogated in the People’s Republic of China.
Dominique Fishback, Show Me a Hero
Fishback gave a scene-stealing turn in Simon’s acclaimed miniseries Show Me a Hero as Billie Rowan, a troubled teen living in the projects. She’s similarly heartbreaking in The Deuce as one of its primary players, Darlene, a sex worker with an affinity for old movies and literature.
Chris Coy, Treme
Coy made his HBO debut as telepath bellboy Barry on True Blood, but his more notable introduction came via Treme, Simon’s post-Katrina drama set in New Orleans, where he played a reporter modeled on investigative journalist A.C. Thompson. Now, he plays The Deuce’s primary LGBT character, introducing viewers to the queer side of ‘70s Times Square.
Anwan Glover, The Wire
DJ, rapper, and actor Anwan Glover rose to prominence as Slim Charles, the Barksdale enforcer who survives to top lieutenant in Proposition Joe’s gang on The Wire. He reunites with Simon on The Deuce, playing Leon, owner of the local diner where many of the series’ main players converge for rich, workplace-like scenes.
Chris Bauer, True Blood
Bauer’s a veteran of memorable HBO creations: Earlier in his career, he became known for his turn as Frank Sobotka on The Wire’s second season, but he rose in popularity on True Blood: His bumbling, ineffectual cop Andy Bellefleur was consistently one of the vampire drama’s great comic delights.
Emily Meade, The Leftovers
Emily Meade enters The Deuce once again looking for trouble. Her character, Lori, is immediately drawn to seedy Times Square after getting off the bus from Minnesota. She played a similarly calculating character in the first season of The Leftovers as Aimee, Jill Garvey’s best friend.
Daniel Sauli, The Sopranos
Remember Meadow Soprano’s mystery date “Patrick,” who was revealed in-the-flesh at the tail end of the series’ run? Daniel Sauli, now playing mafia debt collector Tommy Longo on The Deuce, was introduced to HBO audiences in The Sopranos’ final season in that oft-referenced role. Sauli also played the mayor to succeed Oscar Isaac’s Nic Wasicsko on Show Me a Hero.
Ralph Macchio, Entourage
That’s right — the Karate Kid is a genuine member of the HBO company. Macchio is cast in The Deuce as Officer Haddix, a jaded vice cop, and he’s not exactly known for his TV work. But this isn’t his first time on the pay cabler. What’s that — you forgot that time Macchio cameoed on Entourage as himself? Allow us to remind you.
Don Harvey, Luck
After playing track manager The Flack on the short-lived Luck and Detective Box’s talky partner Tomalikis in The Night Of, Harvey joins The Deuce in a more substantial role as Danny Flanagan, Times Square cop who knows the game all too well.
Gbenga Akinnagbe, The Wire
Akinnagbe, playing a smooth-talking pimp on The Deuce, moves around the TV circuit pretty fast — he’s had prominent recurring roles on everything from The Good Wife to Damages to Nurse Jackie to The Following — but his most memorable role remains Marlo Stanfield’s trusty No. 2 on The Wire, Chris Partlow.
Mustafa Shakir, The Night Of
Shakir played a prominent role in the Rikers section of The Night Of, as the aggressive and ultimately ill-fated henchman of Michael K. Williams’ Freddy. He’s moving over to provide muscle for James Franco on The Deuce as “Big Mike,” a man of few words who gradually earns Vincent’s loyalty.
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge
Kazan gets plenty of material to chew on in her recurring role on The Deuce as James Franco’s separated wife, but her big HBO break came in a very different kind of role: as Denise “The Mouse” Thibodeau in Olive Kitteridge, for which she earned an Emmy nomination.
Natalie Paul, Show Me a Hero
After a minor recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, Paul gave a shattering performance in Show Me a Hero as Doreen, a young woman raised in the suburbs but drawn back to the housing projects she grew up in. Simon’s recruited her once again for The Deuce, where she plays a curious journalist.
Pernell Walker, The Night Of
Pernell Walker is already one of The Deuce’s liveliest presences as Ruby “Thunder Thighs,” a veteran sex worker who bonds with Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It’s a breakout role for the actress, but even she has some HBO cred — she had a small guest spot as a PO on The Night Of.
Michael Kostroff, The Wire
Kostroff was all too memorable on The Wire as slimy defense attorney Maurice Levy, the man who represents kingpins while striving for legitimacy. He plays Rizzi, a cop, on The Deuce. (One reason Kostroff’s stayed in Simon’s orbit: He’s the brother of Simon’s producing partner, Nina Kostroff Noble.
David Krumholtz, The Newsroom
Krumholtz, who plays adult filmmaker Harvey Wasserman on The Deuce, starred as the lead in more than 100 episodes of CBS’s Numb3rs. But while the rest of his TV credits are extensive, his HBO resume is comparatively brief: a recurring role on The Newsroom as Jeff Daniels’ psychiatrist, who tries to help him through his father’s passing.
Michael Rispoli, The Sopranos
Decades ago, Rispoli was a frontrunner to play Tony in The Sopranos — while the role ultimately went to James Gandolfini, Rispoli wound up in a meaty part as Jackie Aprile, the acting boss of the DiMeo crime family upon the series’ start. He’s a mob figure again in The Deuce, as the business-minded Rudy Pipilo.