Actor Michael K. Williams, best known for his role as Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire,” has died at the age of 54.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy-nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” a representative for Williams told The Hollywood Reporter. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment at about 2 p.m. Monday, a New York Police Department spokesperson told HuffPost. The cause of death is under investigation.
At the time of his death, Williams was in the running for a 2021 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a drama series for his role as Montrose Freeman in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” The prolific and acclaimed actor previously received three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for “Bessie,” “The Night Of” and “When They See Us.”
The Brooklyn-born Williams began his career as a professional dancer in his early 20s, appearing in dozens of music videos and touring with artists such as George Michael and Madonna before breaking into the acting world with early roles that included playing Tupac Shakur’s brother in the 1996 movie “Bullet.”
When “The Wire” began airing in 2002, Williams’s portrayal of Omar Little ― a gay Baltimore stickup man who stole from drug dealers and gave the money to the poor ― launched him to fame as a fan favorite on the celebrated series.
Williams would later reveal that he was experiencing cocaine addiction struggles while working on the show.
“I was playing with fire,” he told NJ.com in a 2012 interview. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead.”
He added that he was sharing his story when he did because “Obviously, God saved me for a purpose. So, I decided to get clean and then come clean. I’m hoping I can reach that one person.”
Tributes from fans, former co-stars and fellow members of the entertainment industry poured in to commemorate Williams’s legacy.
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