The Wire actor Michael K Williams dies at 54, found dead in apartment
According to the NYPD, his death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose.
Michael K Williams, who played the character Omar Little in the TV series The Wire, was found dead in his New York apartment on Monday (Sep 6), the New York Police Department said. He was 54.
The NYPD said Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment after a 2pm emergency phone call to emergency operators.
His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, the NYPD added. The medical examiner was investigating the cause of death.
As Little, he played a criminal with a strict moral code, known for taking advantage of a reputation for brutality that wasn't always real.
The character also broke TV ground as an openly gay man whose sexuality wasn't central to his role.
Williams appeared in all five seasons of HBO's The Wire from 2002 to 2008, his character growing in prominence with each season.
Instantly recognisable with a distinctive scar that ran the length of his face, Williams said most people who saw him on the street called him “Omar”, but he never really resembled the character.
Williams, who received a 2021 Emmy nomination for his performance in HBO's Lovecraft Country, also found fame for his role in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and in the films 12 Years A Slave and Assassin’s Creed.
His Wire co-stars were quick to pay tribute to him on Monday afternoon.
“The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” Wendell Pierce, who played Detective William “Bunk” Moreland and had many memorable scenes with Williams, said on Twitter. “An immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth.”
Isiah Whitlock Jr, who played crooked politician Clay Davis on the series, tweeted that Williams was “One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul”.
Williams had been working with a New Jersey charity to smooth the journey for former prison inmates seeking to reenter society, and was working on a documentary on the subject.
He spoke in an Associated Press story in 2020 of his rough time growing up, and said he had struggled with drug addiction.
“This Hollywood thing that you see me in, I’m passing through,” he said. “Because I believe this is where my passion, my purpose is supposed to be.”