Michael K. Williams Has Died At The Age Of 54

September 7, 2021 / Posted by:

Labor Day is typically a time for rest for many. But a good percentage of the television-viewing population spent it with their emotions working overtime yesterday when the horrible, shocking news was reported by numerous sources that the extremely talented multiple Emmy-nominated actor Michael K. Williams had been found dead in his Brooklyn home, at the age of 54.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Michael was found in his home Monday afternoon. His rep released the following statement confirming this awful revelation:

“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 insurmountable loss.”

HBO, with whom Michael K. Williams worked on numerous projects, released this statement regarding one of the most legendary actors to ever appear on the network:

“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 year. 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 leaves behind his son, Elijah Anderson. No cause of death has yet been given officially, although the New York Post is reporting that Michael may have died from a suspected heroin overdose. I refuse to comment either way, but I will say that the news of Michael’s death absolutely gave me the same shitty sick-stomach feeling I had when Philip Seymour Hoffman left us, because like PSH, Michael K. Williams had the kind of career that made you excited to see what else he could do, and now there’s a huge hole left by death’s abrupt end.

Michael originally wanted to be a professional dancer. Picture it, New York City, mid-to-late 1980s, Michael was a club kid who could dance the varnish off a parquet dance floor, and he quit school to focus on dancing. He was eventually hired as a background dancer on tours by George Michael and Madonna, and a few years later, he was hired by Crystal Waters to choreograph the video for “100% Pure Love.” That would be Michael K. Williams in the middle at the 0:30 mark.

He began his acting journey by enrolling in Harlem’s National Black Theater to hone his skills as a naturally talented thespian. On Michael’s 25th birthday, he was slashed with a razor blade during a bar fight, which left him with his trademark facial scar. That scar ended up getting him some work as an actor. Tupac Shakur saw a photo of Michael and had him cast in the film Bullet. After that, Michael kept landing roles (like my personal favorite one-episode guest spot as Ray Ray the chess master on The Sopranos), but he became famous in 2002 when he was cast as the sensitive robber with a high moral code Omar Little in HBO’s The Wire. Even if you never watched a single episode of The Wire, you probably knew Omar Little. Omar was one of the most iconic characters ever seen on HBO, and some consider Omar to be an iconic gay television character. And it’s likely why so many people’s coping mechanism to help them process Michael K. Williams’ death was to hop on social media and comment that his arrival in Heaven was announced with: “Omar coming.

After The Wire ended, Michael went from one award-winning prestige TV series to another, with his four-season run as Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire. He was also in Bessie, 12 Years a Slave, The Night Of, Inherent Vice, When We Rise, When They See Us, and most recently Lovecraft Country. Michael K. Williams was nominated for four SAG Awards (he won one, for Outstanding Ensemble for Boardwalk Empire), three NAACP Awards, and five Primetime Emmy Awards, the most recent of which was a 2021 nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Lovecraft Country.

Plenty of Michael’s former colleagues have paid tribute to him on Twitter, and one of the biggest takeaways here is that Michael K. Williams wasn’t just a really good actor, but was also a next-level wonderful human being as well.

Here’s a bittersweet clip featuring Michael K. Williams and another gone-too-soon legend, Anthony Bourdain, visiting one of Michael’s favorite neighborhood restaurants.

Rest in peace, Michael K. Williams.

Pic: Wenn.com

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