Michael K. Williams, the actor best known for his role as the enigmatic Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire, has died at the age of 54. The news was confirmed by his rep in a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter.
“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,” his rep, Marianna Shafran said.
The actor was found on Monday afternoon in his Brooklyn home by family members. The NYPD reportedly told Associated Press his death is being investigated as a potential drug overdose. The four-time Emmy nominee had previously opened up about his struggles with drug abuse over the years.
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, 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.”
The legacy of Michael K. Williams
Williams brought to life one of the most beloved characters in television, the rogue stickup man Omar Little, who remains wildly popular among fans of HBO’s hugely successful crime drama series The Wire. Barack Obama even named Little as his all-time favorite character in The Wire. He also brought his talent to the HBO series Broadwalk Empire from 2010 – 2014, in the role of Albert “Chalky” White.
More recently, he received an Emmy nomination earlier this year for his role as Montrose Freeman in the series Lovecraft Country. He has also appeared in several films including 12 Years a Slave and Inherent Vice.
During his career, he was nominated three more times for his role in the HBO series The Night Of, the mini-series When They See Us, and the TV movie Bessie. Last week it was announced Williams was set to join the cast of Sony’s untitled biopic about world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman.
The Wire co-stars pay tribute to Michael K. Williams
As Hollywood mourns the loss of great talent, William’s co-stars took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late actor.
Co-star Wendell Pierce, who played Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire, referred to Williams as his “brother”.
While actor Isiah Whitlock Jr, AKA State Senator Clay Davis in The Wire expressed he is “shocked and saddened” upon hearing the news.
Michael K. Williams is survived by his son, Elijah Anderson.