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Robert Chew, AKA Prop Joe, Dead at 52

Idris Elba, Robert Chew
HBO

The massive achievement that is HBO’s ‘The Wire’ is such that even supporting players left a lasting impression on pop culture. Robert Chew, who played Prop Joe, had one of the juiciest roles (in a show chocked full of them) as a pragmatic drug lord known for his negotiating skills. Sadly, Chew passed away last night at the age of 52.

It’s hard to pick Chew’s best line in the series; his most quotable is easily “Look the part, be the part, motherf—er,’ though he made the poetry of his dialogue unforgettable (it’s hard to pick one great line from this sample). His character was like many on ‘The Wire’ in that you at once loved and hated him. You saw the truth of his character, or at least the humanity in a terrible human being.

Chew worked on other David Simon shows like ‘Homicide’ and the miniseries ‘The Corner,’ but besides Prop Joe, his greatest achievement was his acting school, where he helped teach many of the youths used in ‘The Wire,’ including all the young boys from the fourth season. Here is a perfect example of his skill, in a scene where he shuffles through three accents to trace the whereabouts of a cop. Chew may have had only one great role, but it was one for the ages.

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