Hollywood actor Michael K. Williams, who brought extreme charisma to his portrayal of Omar Little on the HBO series. The wire, was found dead at age 54 at his home in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on September 6.
Williams’ representative, Marianna Shafran, announced her death in a statement saying the family was dealing with “deep grief” over “this insurmountable loss.” According to the New York City Police Department, Williams was found around 2 p.m. and the cause of death is possibly being investigated as a drug overdose. However, the city medical examiner will determine the cause.
At age 25, Williams achieved the scar that became his trademark physical trait and that helped define him as an actor. He was spending his birthday in a Queens bar when a man cut his face with a razor blade during a fight. In the 1996 movie Bullet, Williams played the brother of Tupac’s character. After playing a drug dealer in Martin Scorsese’s 1999 film Bringing the dead, Williams landed a small role in an episode of The sopranos, playing a loving father who lives on the projects and agrees to help hide the son of a deceased mob boss.
But his most beloved performance or job he’s known for is his role in the man wielding a shotgun on HBO’s groundbreaking five-season series. The wire. Like Little Omar who explored Baltimore’s harsh world of corruption, drugs, and police, Williams played perhaps the most memorable character in a series that many consider to be among the best shows in television history. As a boastful lone wolf in a story largely defined by ongoing battles between the police and various crime bosses and crews, Omar was one of primetime’s preeminent antiheroes in a television era defined by them.
The wire established Williams as one of the best actors on television, following the actor to star in acclaimed series such as Boardwalk Empire, the night of and When we get up including several movies, including 12 Years a Slave and The Road. He had recently been cast in a George Foreman biopic as Doc Broadus, the boxer’s coach and mentor. He received five Emmy Award nominations, including one at the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards. He was also nominated this year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series ‘Lovecraft Country’.
Writer and director of The wire David Simon posted Williams’ photo on Twitter on Monday, saying he was “too gutted” to say more about “a good man and rare talent” who “always deserved the best words.”
– David Simon (@AoDespair) September 6, 2021
Williams used his celebrity status to advocate for various causes, the most notable of which was criminal justice reform, in both the United States and the Bahamas, and was the ACLU’s ambassador to end mass incarceration, appearing in an ad campaign related to her involvement in discussions of systemic racism amid the Black Lives Matter movement both on and off screen. However, he spoke openly in interviews about his battle with drug addiction which Williams struggled through at times.
Williams is survived by her mother, Paula Williams, her brother Paul Carey, and her nephew Dominic Dupont.
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