Mourning Michael K. Williams. The Wire’s Wendell Pierce and more celebrities honored the late actor after news broke of his death on Monday, September 6.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” the 54-year-old’s rep told The Hollywood Reporter. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
The New York native, is best known for his roles on The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Lovecraft Country and When They See Us. He reflected on a “difficult” part of his life in a July 2016 NPR interview.
“I was broken,” Williams said of the time he spent filming season 3 of The Wire. “I was on drugs, and I was in jeopardy of destroying everything that I had worked so hard for. And I came in [those church] doors, and I met a man who had never even heard of The Wire, much less watched it. He was somewhere else in the Bronx preaching at another church when I first went there. And he stopped everything he was doing, ran back to New Jersey just because his team at the church told him that someone … was in trouble and needed to speak to him. He never judged. You know, he just nudged.”
The Emmy nominee noted that his drug use stemmed from not feeling “worthy of the opportunity” to star in the HBO show.
“I definitely wore that dark energy that [my character], Omar, was,” Williams explained. “He was a dark soul, tortured soul. And I just woke all of that up and lived in that. And that’s what people was attracted to. I just didn’t know how to differentiate, ‘OK, that is Omar’s love, and then you have Michael’s love.’ The lines got blurred.”
The Bessie star also reflected on getting into a bar fight at age 25, which resulted in the facial scar that he calls a “turning point” in his career.
“Directors didn’t want me just to dance in the videos anymore. They wanted me to act out these thug roles,” Williams told NPR. “Mike, roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video.’ I was like, ‘All right.’”
Many celebrities have spoken out in the wake of Williams’ death, from Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan to Criminal Minds‘ Aisha Tyler. Keep scrolling to s their set tributes to the 12 Years a Slave star.