Michael K. Williams, an actor best known for his role as Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire,” has died. He was 54. Williams was found dead in his NY City apartment Monday afternoon, an enforcement official told CNN. Investigators found drug paraphernalia near his body, the official said. The investigation is ongoing, consistent with another enforcement source who spoke to CNN.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They invite your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss,” his long-time rep Marianna Shafran of Shafran PR told The Hollywood Reporter.
CNN has contacted representatives of Williams for comment. In a 2017 interview with the NY Times, Williams spoke openly about his struggles with drug abuse . “Addiction doesn’t get away,” he said at the time. “It’s an everyday struggle on behalf of me, but I’m fighting.” Williams, a Brooklyn native, last appeared in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and therefore the series “F Is for Family.”
He became an almost iconic figure for several because of his role in “The Wire” as Omar Little, a shotgun-wielding character who made his living robbing drug dealers. He followed that up as a mobster within the HBO Prohibition-era mob drama “Boardwalk Empire,” and last earned an Emmy nomination for an additional series on the pay network, the macabre “Lovecraft Country.”
Williams was next slated to co-star in Sony’s George Foreman biopic from George Tillman Jr., who was set to direct.
Williams amassed a variety of accolades during his storied career, including five Emmy nominations. His first was in 2015 for his role in “Bessie” and another followed two years later for his part in “The Night Of.” He was also the winner of a SAG Award for best ensemble with the cast of “Boardwalk Empire.” On social media, Williams’ many colleagues and friends recalled the depth, complexity, and humanity he delivered to his characters on screen and, above all, the person he was off-screen. “Michael K Williams was a gorgeous, passionate, expansive soul. I felt so lucky to possess known him, and that we were all so fortunate to possess enjoyed his incredible talent,” Aisha Tyler wrote on Twitter. “He burned so very bright.”
Director James Gunn added: “Michael K Williams, additionally to being one among the foremost talented actors around, was also one among the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met. this is often heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those that loved him.” Musician Saul Williams wrote: “For years Wikipedia listed Michael K. Williams as my brother. Neither one among us chose to correct it, instead we took it at its word. ‘We’re brothers, yo.’ He shared poems with me. We broke bread & kicked it whenever we could. A deep & sincere connection. a gorgeous spirit.”
His “Wire” co-star Wendell Pierce also joined the chorus of remembrances with a touching tribute.
“The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” he wrote. “A immensely talented man with the power to offer voice to the human condition portraying the lives of these whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth.”