“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy-nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss,” Williams’ rep advised The Hollywood Reporter.
Williams was born in Brooklyn in 1966 and honed his inventive skills first as a dancer for Madonna and George Michael earlier than breaking into appearing, starring alongside Tupac Shakur in 1996’s Bullet and having a small however memorable flip as a drug supplier in Martin Scorsese‘s Bringing Out the Dead in 1999. He previously told Vanity Fair that a small role in an episode of The Sopranos made him feel like he’d lastly made it.
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His largest and most iconic break got here in 2002, when he made his debut as Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire. Williams’ highly effective portrayal of the homosexual vigilante, who hunted low-level drug sellers and lived by a strict ethical code, is considered the most effective characters in tv historical past. Unfortunately, the character turned so engrained within the actor that when his arc ended, Williams admitted he didn’t know the place to show or what to do.
“People didn’t even call me Mike, they called me Omar. But that wasn’t unusual because everybody had an alias,” Williams advised NJ.com, explaining that he started to lose sight of the place the character ended and the place he started. “No one was called their government [name] on the block, so they called me Omar or ‘O.’ That mixed with my identity crisis and my addiction — and it was not a good mix. I had to stop trying to be Omar and just be Mike.”
Williams confessed to spending his earnings from the collection on medication and turned to his church for bodily, psychological, emotional and monetary restoration. Since then, he’d rebounded in a giant method, starring as Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire, biology Professor Marshall Kane on Community and in movies together with Assassin’s Creed, 12 Years A Slave, The Purge: Anarchy, Triple 9 and Motherless Brooklyn. His most up-to-date star turns had been as Bobby McCray in Ava DuVernay‘s When They See Us and as Montrose in Lovecraft Country, the latter for which he was a favorite for a 2021 Best Supporting Actor Emmy win.
In addition to acting, Williams was passionate about giving back, with dreams of someday opening a community center. He frequented children’s hospitals and was an activist within the struggle to finish mass incarceration.
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years,” HBO stated in a press release. “While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.”
“Michael K Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met. This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those who loved him,” director James Gunn tweeted.
Michael Ok Williams, along with being one of the proficient actors round, was additionally one of many kindest, sweetest, most mild souls I’ve ever met. This is heartbreaking. My ideas are with all those that beloved him. ❤️
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 6, 2021
Leslie Jones, who starred in 2016’s Ghostbusters with Williams, tweeted, “Not gonna lie this one f—ed me up y’all!! [Michael] K. Williams was a solid dude. He was so nice to me when we did Ghostbusters and we bonded on many levels!! Damn I was just thinking the next time I saw him I was gonna tell him how dope of an actor he is. Rest in [love] Bro!”
“I can’t even believe this,” Aldis Hodge wrote on Instagram. “Rest in power, Mike. You were always a good brother. A fantastic artist and an even better human being. We’ll miss you.”
Isiah Whitlock, Jr., who co-starred with Williams on The Wire, tweeted, “Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams. One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul. May you RIP. God bless.”
Shocked and saddened by the demise of Michael Ok Williams. One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the most important coronary heart. An superb actor and soul.
May you RIP. God bless.
— Isiah Whitlock Jr. (@IsiahWhitlockJr) September 6, 2021
The Wire creator David Simon tweeted, “Too gutted right now to say all that ought to be said. Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he always deserved the best words. And today those words won’t come.”
Too gutted proper now to say all that must be stated. Michael was a positive man and a uncommon expertise and on our journey collectively he at all times deserved the very best phrases. And in the present day these phrases will not come.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) September 6, 2021
Williams is survived by his mom, brother and nephew. According to IMDb, he has a handful of initiatives popping out within the close to future, together with the movie Surrounded, which co-stars Jamie Bell and Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright, and the indie drama 892 with Connie Britton, John Boyega and Nicole Beharie. However, Deadline reported that Britton had just boarded that project in August 2021, suggesting that filming might not be completed. Likewise, Deadline had only reported eight days prior to Williams’ passing that he had simply joined an upcoming George Foreman biopic, the place he was signed on to play the legendary boxer’s real-life mentor and coach, Doc Broadus.