Michael K. Williams: The Wire star dead at 54

UPDATE: As news of the unexpected passing of Michael K. Williams has begun to spread, his Hollywood peers are sending out tributes to the late actor and it’s clear from their posts that not only was Williams beloved for his talent, but he was also beloved for warmth as a human being. You can check out some of the Twitter tributes below!


Some unfortunate news to report with the NY Post revealing that Michael K. Williams, star of The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Hap & Leonard, and so many other shows, has passed away at 54. The circumstances of his death have not been confirmed.

This is a major tragedy, as Williams was a beloved figure with a long list of credits. He starred in not one, but several hit shows for HBO and was a striking figure, known for a deep scar that ran down his face, the result of being attacked outside of a bar with a razor blade. While a disfigurement like that could have been a career-ender for some, for Williams, it was a trademark. It arguably made his famous Omar White from The Wire an immediately recognizable and memorable character. In fact, Omar became The Wire’s breakout character throughout the five seasons it aired, with him the badass street tough who rips off drug dealers in brutal fashion but also maintains a particular code of ethics and sense of skewed morality that made him an anti-hero in the truest sense of the word.


From The Wire, he moved on to Boardwalk Empire, where he played Chalky White, leader of the black mob in Atlantic City in the ’20s. He was also known for his role on Hap & Leonard, where he played a gay black Vietnam vet named Leonard Pine who, along with his best buddy Hap Leonard (James Purefoy), frequently found himself getting wrapped up in violent adventures in 1980’s East Texas.

He also had memorable roles on HBO’s The Night Of as a “seen it all” inmate, in addition to his most recent featured role in Lovecraft Country as Montrose Freeman, the closeted, violent father of the show’s lead, Atticus, played by Jonathan Majors. Williams also dabbled in lighter roles, with a part on Dan Harmon’s Community, the comedy mini-series The Spoils Before Dying (opposite Will Ferrell). He also had a long career in features, with him recently earning raves for his role in Body Brokers.

While promoting that film, Williams opened up to Marc Maron on his WTF Podcast about his substance abuse issues. He was candid about struggling to maintain his sobriety and proved to be a good-humoured, optimistic person. Of course, the circumstances surrounding his death have not been confirmed, but our hearts here at JoBlo go out to Mr. Williams and his family. He was an incredible talent and, by all accounts, a great guy. Rest in peace.

Source: NY Post

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