Michael K Williams: The Wire actor found dead in his New York apartment

Actor was best known for his roles in The Wire and Boardwalk Empire

Sam Moore
Tuesday 07 September 2021 04:07 BST
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Michael K Williams: The Wire actor found dead in his New York apartment
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Michael K Williams, star of HBO series The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, has been found dead in his New York apartment, aged 54.

According to the New York Post, the actor was found by law enforcement on Monday afternoon at his penthouse in Williamsburg. Drug paraphernalia was also found, indicating a possible overdose, the newspaper reported.

They also indicate that Williams was found by his nephew in the dining room of the apartment.

A police source allegedly told the newspaper that “no foul play” was suspected.

Additionally, the newspaper reports that his body was found at around 1400 local time [1800 GMT] and the actor was pronounced dead at 1412.

A representative for the actor confirmed his passing to The Hollywood Reporter and said that it was “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”.

In a statement HBO said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years.

"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."

Williams rose to fame on HBO’s The Wire, playing fearsome stick-up robber Omar Little. Barack Obama once called Little his “favourite character” and “the toughest, baddest guy on the show”.

Speaking about the role, Williams said: "Omar became an alter ego. A gay man who doesn't like fancy clothes or fancy cars, doesn't do drugs, doesn't even curse and robs the most gangster drug dealers in the community. He's an outcast, and I identified with that immensely. Instead of using it as a tool to maybe heal myself, I hid behind that.

“Nobody was calling Michael in the streets. Everything was Omar, Omar, Omar. I mistook that admiration. It felt good. But it wasn't for me. It was for a fictional character. When that show ended, along with that character, I was clueless about how to deal with that. I crumbled."

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He also spoke about his battle with drugs and how, during the filming of the third season of The Wire, he had sought help from a church in Newark, New Jersey.

Born in New York City and raised in the East Flatbush neighbourhood of Brooklyn, his break in the entertainment industry had come through his work as a dancer, where he worked and toured with the likes of Madonna, Tupac and George Michael.

The distinctive scar across his face was the result of a fight when he was 25.

Williams also had parts in The Night Of, When They See Us and Lovecraft County.

He also appeared in a number of acclaimed films including Inherent Vice, 12 Years a Slave, Motherless Brooklyn and The Road.

Williams, a father of one, was nominated for an Emmy on five occasions, including in this year’s Primetime Emmy awards for his role in Lovecraft County.

No cause of death has yet been revealed.

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