Isiah Whitlock Jr. lived in Chelsea earlier than Chelsea was fashionable.
“I was looking for an apartment in New York, and I sort of had my choice of Chelsea or Harlem, and I really couldn’t see my girlfriend in Harlem,” he mentioned. “So we chose Chelsea, which at the time was a little bit of a terrifying neighborhood.”
Mr. Whitlock, 66, is likely one of the stars of the brand new Showtime mini-series “Your Honor,” however is probably greatest identified for taking part in the corrupt state senator Clay Davis on “The Wire.” He has additionally appeared in movies like “Cedar Rapids,” “BlacKkKlansman” and “Da 5 Bloods.” Twenty or so years in the past, he was an rising actor who bought a candy deal on a duplex just a few blocks from the meatpacking district, with two bedrooms and a working fire. He put his personal stamp on it — Flokati rug and beanbag chairs — after his girlfriend moved out. Just a few years later, the owner urged it was time for Mr. Whitlock to vacate the premises, too, however framed the request in a extra flattering method.
“One day she told me in passing, ‘You know, I really don’t want you becoming famous, because I don’t want tour buses pulling up in front of the house,’” Mr. Whitlock mentioned. “I thought it was sort of a joke, but she wasn’t laughing.”
“I never did get a solid reason,” he added. “I suspected she wanted a lot more money. I could have paid more, but she wanted me gone.”
Isiah Whitlock, 66
Home candy house: “As an actor, you’re out and about and meeting all kinds of people, and it’s nice to be able to come home and shut the door and kind of chill.”
Mr. Whitlock decamped to a dismal walk-up close by. “It was so dark I sometimes had to go outside and take a walk to wake up,” he recalled. “I would say to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and then I’d get a job and be gone for three months. And then I’d get another job and be gone again.” Finally — maybe it was when intruders began stealing tenants’ mail and packages — he’d had sufficient.
Last August, mates sublet him their one-bedroom condominium in a postwar Gramercy Park co-op, with a rooftop terrace and a coveted key to the park. “And if my friends are nice to me, they can come in with me,” Mr. Whitlock mentioned. This is his first doorman constructing and his first elevator constructing.
“I sort of had a long talk with myself and said, ‘You know, it’s time for you to grow up and stop living the way you’ve been living,’” he mentioned. “When I was working so much and was barely home, it was sort of out of sight, out of mind. But with Covid, I really need to be in a place I enjoy.” He mentioned he intends to purchase an condominium when the sublet is up — in truth, was in talks to purchase on the Upper East Side final spring, however the pandemic put every thing on ice.
The firm he employed to pack and transfer his worldly items did a poor job of it, Mr. Whitlock mentioned, necessitating the alternative of a number of items of furnishings. Fortunately, a lot of treasures arrived intact, together with a Robert Rauschenberg silk-screen on mirror-coated plexiglass, a part of the “Star Quarters” collection; the framed entrance web page of the ultimate version of the Village Voice; a poster of Bill Pickett, referred to as the primary African-American cowboy star (“It’s a beautiful poster, one of the best things I have in the house”); and a photograph of a considerably youthful, considerably trimmer Mr. Whitlock.
“That’s my band. I used to be in a band,” he mentioned, by means of explaining the image. “And believe it or not, the guy in the white jumpsuit — that’s me. I didn’t play an instrument. I just sang and danced and drove the girls wild.”
The movers had been additionally conscious of the cuckoo clock Mr. Whitlock purchased in Germany; the wooden field containing the trinkets he collected throughout his two journeys to Burning Man; and the framed, signed sheet music of a tune composed by Arthur Miller for the 1997 Off Broadway manufacturing of Miller’s play “The American Clock.” (Mr. Whitlock was a member of the solid.)
He ordered a tufted, L-shaped teal sectional on-line, however when it arrived the configuration was the reverse of what he’d anticipated. In time, he has come to view the acquisition as a lucky mistake. “This way, it really opens up the room,” mentioned Mr. Whitlock, who lined the couch with a row of pillows he purchased in Vietnam and Thailand whereas capturing “Da 5 Bloods.” The tv sits atop a brand new credenza manufactured from honey-colored wooden. His beloved shag rug pulls all of it collectively.
A critical prepare dinner, he hung a pot rack within the kitchen. But you’d be forgiven for considering that Mr. Whitlock perhaps cares a bit extra about drink than meals. He proudly confirmed off the half dozen hand-painted espresso cups and saucers he had specifically made throughout a visit to Deruta, Italy.
Even extra proudly, he supplied a tour of the 200-bottle, glass-fronted wine cooler. Harlan Estate, Chateau Montviel, Chateau Latour and Chateau d’Yquem are among the many vineyards represented right here, with Dom Pérignon on the prepared for celebrating when the pandemic is lastly over. There are additionally a number of bottles of classic Whitlock, made by you-know-who at a totally outfitted web site in New Jersey, with grapes from Napa Valley.
“You know, as a matter of fact, I think I’ll just take that out and have it tonight,” he mentioned of a 2014 Cabernet Whitlock. “Trust me, I’ve got a lot of it.”