Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff is a drug dealer and enforcer for his uncle, and East Baltimore drug kingpin Proposition Joe Stewart. Cheese later betrays his uncle and begins enforcing for Marlo Stanfield's West side drug cartel. Cheese serves as a major antagonist for most of the HBO crime drama The Wire, briefly serving as one of the main antagonist for part of season 5 along with Marlo Stanfield and Chris Partlow.
"Cheese" is portrayed by American actor and rapper, Method Man.
Cheese is a crew chief in his Uncle's Eastside drug crew. He supplied Union leader Frank Sobotka's son, Ziggy, with a narcotics package and, when Ziggy messed up the package and could not pay cheese back, the irate gangster found Ziggy, set fire to his car and threatened to kill him. Ziggy's cousin Nick intervened on Ziggy's behalf but could only convince Cheese to give Ziggy more time. Cheese was forced to back down when Nick involved "The Greek" – Proposition Joe's supplier of high-quality heroin. Cheese subsequently moved his crew and operation into west side kingpin Avon Barksdale's territory following an agreement with Barksdale's right hand Russell "Stringer" Bell. Barksdale himself was unaware of the agreement due to being incarcerated, and hired legendary New York enforcer, Brother Mouzone, who shot Cheese in the shoulder with rat shot to intimidate him and the rest of his crew.
Cheese eventually landed in the crosshairs of the major case unit's as a possible route to Proposition Joe himself. Cheese avoided their surveillance efforts through disciplined use of his underlings to make phone calls and by only discussing business face to face, and was eventually promoted to supplying other dealers.
Cheese kept a Pitbull terrier and participated in underground dog fights. When his dog lost a fight, Cheese reluctantly shot it rather than seek treatment for its injuries to avoid attention from the law. Cheese's soldier Tree suggested that his opponent, might have cheated with another dealer named Jelly. Cheese then had Tree kill Jelly, leading to two further deaths and a short war between the rival crews. The major case unit arrested Tree in the course of preparing for yet another skirmish. The unit mistakenly presumed Cheese was using slang to discuss a murder when they overheard him on a tapped phone describing how he shot his dog. After arresting Cheese, the unit interrogators revealed their wiretap evidence to him in an effort to force his confession. Once the unit realized Cheese had been talking literally about killing an animal, he was released and promptly told Proposition Joe about the wiretap, after which his gang changed their communication strategies to thwart further investigation.
Cheese remained a trusted member of Proposition Joe's inner circle. He acted as the go-between, supplying Joe's drugs to the various other Baltimore dealers in the Co-op, including Marlo Stanfield, and also picked up the drug deliveries from The Greek's men. Stick up man Omar Little tracked Cheese from Proposition Joe's office to one of these delivery sites during a major drop and robbed him of the entire Baltimore heroin supply, that Cheese was to over see delivery of. When Omar sold the drugs back to Joe, Cheese threatened to torture Omar into giving the heroine back, but Joe knowing this tactic would not work with Omar made Cheese back off and accepted the deal.
Cheese eventually begins assisting Marlo Stanfield in his efforts to control the entire Baltimore drug trade, acting as an informant to Marlo, behind Proposition Joe's back. In exchange for a $50,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Omar Little, Cheese identifies a close friend of Omar's, Butchie the blind bar owner, as someone who knows where Omar is hiding. When Butchie is tortured and murdered by Chris Partlow and Snoop, Joe immediately suspects Cheese is Marlo's informant. Fearing Omar might believe he is responsible, Prop Joe prepares to go into hiding. Cheese informs Marlo of Proposition Joe's whereabouts after Joe is no longer of use to Marlo. Marlo rewards Cheese with a top spot in his organization after effectively dissolving the New Day Co-Op, with Cheese even murdering one of the Co-Op members for insulting him at a meeting. After Marlo is arrested and subsequently forced out of the drug trade in exchange for his freedom, he appoints Cheese as his succesor. Cheese and the rest of the co-op meet to discuss how the group should move forward now that Marlo is out of the picture. Waving a pistol in another dealer's face, Cheese makes a speech about how Joe and Marlo have had "their time," and begins to declare it is now his turn effectively taking charge of the drug trade by force. However as Cheese is declaring his leadership, Slim Charles, a former enforcer for Proposition Joe, raises his gun and suddenly shoots Cheese in the side of the head, killing him instantly and ending his brief leadership of the Baltimore drug trade. When another dealer asks Charles why he killed Cheese, Charles simply replies, "That was for Joe."