Death of Michael K. Williams, who played Omar in “The Wire”

(AFP) – His interpretation of Omar, a character apart and essential from the cult series “The Wire”, had made him famous: the American actor Michael K. Williams, several times nominated for the Emmy Awards, has been found died Monday in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 54.

“It is with deep sadness that her family announces the death of actor Michael Kenneth Williams (…). She asks you to respect her privacy during the mourning linked to this insurmountable loss,” said the family of the actor, in a message sent by his agent.

“He died in an apartment (…) in Brooklyn”, for his part told AFP Lieutenant John Grimpel, of the New York police, who gave no details, while several media have advanced the thesis of an overdose, citing police sources.

During his career, Michael K. Williams, born in Brooklyn where he grew up in an African-American family, was nominated several times at the Emmy Awards, for his appearances in “Bessie” (2015), “The Night Of” (2016 ) or “When They See Us” (2019). His role in “Lovecraft Country” earned him yet another nomination for the upcoming awards night.

But it is by playing Omar, one of the most atypical and successful characters of “The Wire”, that the actor whose face was crossed out with a long scar became widely known and appreciated. As of the announcement of his death, the tributes did not delay in the middle of the series and the cinema, but also beyond.

“Horrible, sad and incredible to think that we lost the fantastic and talented Michael K. Williams at the age of 54”, tweeted the great American writer Stephen King.

– “Omar Little” –
For many, David Simon’s “The Wire” series, a startling dive into the everyday life of Baltimore’s slums, is one of the most successful in history.

Aired for five seasons on HBO in the 2000s, the series follows the rivalries of small drug-dealer groups at the foot of sometimes dilapidated buildings and the work of police investigators, but season after season David Simon is interested in it. a keen eye for detail in local politics, media, education or the affairs of a harbor workers union.

In this often dark painting, Omar Little, one of the most violent and feared criminals, walks the streets of Baltimore, wrapped in a large coat, gun in hand. Michael K. Williams’ portrayal of this lonely homosexual criminal, with his own moral code and principles, has received critical acclaim, as has that of Idris Elba, who plays fellow trafficker Stringer Bell. .

In an interview with American radio NPR, in 2016, he had recounted how he himself struggled in his real life with his drug addiction while playing in “The Wire”.

Michal K. Williams had also played the role of Chalky White, a smuggler during the prohibition era, in “Boardwalk Empire”, or that of a powerful inmate in the famous New York prison of Rikers Island, in “The Night Of “.

In the cinema, he had notably had a role in “Twelve Years as a Slave” by Steve McQueen or “Gone Baby Gone” by Ben Affleck. The actor was soon to play Doc Broadus, George Foreman’s first trainer and mentor in a biopic on the great American boxer.