Hollywood has lost another iconic star. Michael K Williams, who played the influential role of Omar Little in the HBO original The Wire, has died at the age of 54. The American actor, who is one of TV’s most famous actors due to his role in The Wire, was found dead in his New York apartment, as revealed by the NYPD.
The legend that was Omar Little
The news of his death shook online spaces, with fans pouring with their tributes for the deceased actor. Michael Kenneth Williams had been present on-screen for quite some time, starting his career in a movie with Tupac Shakur, starring as his on-screen brother. After that, he worked in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead and made a small appearance in HBO’s The Sopranos. But, it was his role as Omar Little in The Wire that truly shot Michael K Williams to unprecedented fame.
A gay Baltimore armed robber who would only target drug dealers for money, Omar was largely considered the best character on the show. Not just that, but many consider him to be right up there with Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Walter White as one of the best anti-heroes TV has ever seen. After that, Michael K Williams appeared in other notable shows and movies too, like Boardwalk Empire, 12 Years a Slave, and Lovecraft Country. And for all these roles, he has received multiple Emmy nominations.
How did Michael K Williams die?
The NYPD told AFP that they found Michael K Williams dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Monday. Although they haven’t revealed the official cause of death, many media outlets have sources inside the police who said Michael K Williams’s cause of death was a heroin overdose.
The actor has revealed his struggle with drug addiction in the past as well. He revealed in past interviews that most of his earnings from The Wire went towards drugs, including heroin. Williams once said:
I just started therapy, you know, and really taking that seriously and starting to unpack. Like you said, the critic in my head and what and how that has affected my — my actions, my responses to certain situations, my relationships.
Celebrities and fans react to Michael K Williams’s death
As soon as news broke out, actors who had worked with Williams were simply distraught. Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul wrote a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, telling his fans just how kind-hearted a person Williams was and how big of an impact the deceased actor had on Paul. His The Wire co-star Idris Alba also shared a post on Instagram. Moreover, HBO also released a statement, saying:
We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, an HBO family member for more than 20 years. While the world knew of his immense talents, we knew Michael as a dear friend. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.
However, the truly wonderful tributes came from his colleagues Wendell Pierce and Lance Reddick. Pierce wrote a heartbreaking thread, in which he appreciated just how authentic a person Michael K Williams was.
He shared with me his secret fears then stepped out into his acting with true courage, acting in the face of fear, not in the absence of it. It took me years to learn what Michael had in abundance. He was proud of the artist he had become, asking for my advice long after he had surpassed any incite I could have shared. Always truthful, never inauthentic. The kindest of persons. Like two mischievous kids, we would laugh & joke whenever we would meet.
Pierce also recalled the scene where his character Bunk and Omar talked on a park bench in The Wire. But, it was his kind and gentle nature that immortalized Michael K Williams and his character Omar Little.
Despite not knowing him that well, Reddick again reiterated how Michael K Williams was the kindest person he had ever met in a video message on Twitter:
Legendary author Stephen King also paid his tribute to Michael K Williams death:
Michael K Williams’s death is truly a huge tragedy. Not only for the industry but for his fans as well who adored the person behind the character too. Everyone at Dankanator prays that Williams rests in peace.