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Actor Michael K. Williams (1966-2021)


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The actor Michael K. Williams, a 2021 Primetime Emmy Award nominee for his performances in HBO's drama series "Lovecraft Country," was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Monday, according to The New York Post. He was 54.

Williams, whose middle name was Kenneth, rose to fame in the 2000s in David Simon's acclaimed HBO drama series "The Wire." He was memorable as Omar Little, the flamboyant free-lance holdup man, who frequently robbed drug dealers in Baltimore.

The Post reported that the Brooklyn native's body was discovered in his Kent Avenue penthouse by his nephew. The newspaper quoted sources who said the cause of death may have been an accidental overdose.

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Williams (pictured below right with "Lovecraft Country" co-stars Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett), received a Primetime Emmy nomination in July for his role as Montrose Freeman -- the long-lost father of Majors' character. The phantasmagorical series, patterned after the works of the American horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), is set in the 1950s. The production has been nominated for 18 Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series. Williams' nomination is for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The Emmys will be presented on September 19.

He had been up for Emmys four previous times.

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Williams appeared in 51 of 60 episodes of "The Wire" between 2002 and 2008. His character Omar (who once said “You come at the king, you best not miss”), quickly became a fan favorite. President Obama once declared the series was his favorite TV show -- and confessed that he was enthralled by Omar. "That's not an endorsement," Obama told The Las Vegas Sun. "He's not my favorite person, but he's a fascinating character."

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In the HBO drama series "Boardwalk Empire," Williams played Chalky White, an invaluable ally to the 1920s' Atlantic City power broker Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). “I love this show, man,” Williams once told an Entertainment  Weekly reporter. “Once you put those clothes on, it was a whole ‘nother ball game. The clothes were a character within itself.” Martin Scorsese served as an executive producer of the series, which ran from 2010 to 2014.

The Urban Politico: HBO Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Finale

In the 2013 Academy Award-winning drama "12 Years a Slave," Williams played an enslaved person named Robert opposite star Chiwetel Ejiofor as the real-life protagonist Solomon Northup. The film, co-produced and directed by the British filmmaker Steve McQueen, was based on the freeborn Northup's 1853 account of his kidnapping and enslavement in the Old South.

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Queen Latifah and Williams received Primetime Emmy nominations for their performances in the 2015 HBO movie "Bessie," the story of the blues great Bessie Smith (1894-1937). Williams portrayed the legendary singer's abusive husband Jack Gee.
 
Michael K. Williams explains how Queen Latifah changed his life 30 years  ago - TheGrio
 
The acclaimed 2016 HBO limited series "The Night Of" starred Riz Ahmed and Williams as inmates at New York's Rikers Island prison. Williams' character, a well-connected criminal named Freddy Knight, served as a mentor for Ahmed's character. Ahmed earned a Primetime Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Williams was nominated as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
 
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In the 2019 Netflix miniseries "When They See Us" -- producer-director-writer Ava DuVernay's tale about the 1980s Central Park Five case -- Williams portrayed Bobby McCray, who persuaded his son Antron (Caleel Harris)  to sign a false rape confession. For his efforts, Williams received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
 
Caleel Harris, left, and Michael Kenneth Williams in the trailer for “When They See Us.”
 
Too gutted right now to say all that ought to be said. Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he always deserved the best words. And today those words won't come.
 
 
 
 
I feel punched in the gut to learn we’ve lost Michael K Williams. Soul anguished. Getting to work with him was one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my career. My admiration for his talent was boundless, like so many. If he was in a scene he was the best thing about it. Period.
 
He had a really rare gift for being fully present in the moment & for conveying the layers under the words. He ran so deep. He was also kind & generously enthusiastic. I’ll be forever grateful that he graced ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ & that I got to share space & time w him. RIP Broken heart
 
 
 
 
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Michael K. Williams was **** great until the end. The man is nominated for an Emmy for LOVECRAFT COUNTRY and will probably win one — for the first time — in 13 days. Just too sad for words. RIP.
 
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**** it. We lost one of our best, most talented. RIP #MichaelKWilliams. Breaks my heart.
 
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