Michael K Williams found dead aged 54—celebs, friends, and fans remember The Wire star

Michael K Williams was best known for his roles as Omar Little in The Wire and and Chalky in Boardwalk Empire

Michael K Williams found dead aged 54
(Image credit: Arturo Holmes / Staff/Getty Images)

Michael K Williams was found dead at his home in Brooklyn, NYC on September 6, 2021. The actor died aged 54 and his passing has caused a deluge of grief from his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.

According to reports from US media outlets, including the New York Post, although the cause of death has not yet been determined—drug paraphernalia was found in his penthouse apartment.

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Michael had spoken in the past of his issues with substance abuse throughout his life. 

The star told NPR in 2016 that he was struggling so much at one point that he stumbled into a church in New Jersey in desperate need of help. He said, "When I came through those doors, I was broken. This was, I would say, around the...third season of The Wire."

He described his experience and meeting the pastor who helped him. "I was on drugs. I was in jeopardy of destroying everything I had worked so hard for, and I came in those doors, and I met a man who had never even heard of The Wire, much less watched it."

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The actor is best remembered for his role on The Wire, which was a turning point in his acting career. 

He played Omar Little, an openly gay character who strolled around the crime-ridden streets of Baltimore with a sawed-off shotgun, robbing drug dealers. 

His character brought fear everywhere he went, all the while whistling Looney Tunes character Elmer Fudd's A Hunting We Will Go.

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Michael had an extensive career which was far from over at the time of his death. Long before his starring role on the show that made him a household name, the Flatbush native worked as a professional dancer. He danced alongside Missy Elliot, Ginuwine, Madonna, and George Michael.

A starring role alongside Tupak Shakur in the 1996 film Bullet changed everything as the late rapper encouraged him to devote his time to acting.

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Michaels latest films include 892 with actor John Boyega. As well as this, in August 2021 it was announced that he would play Charles “Doc” Broadus, the mentor to George Foreman, in an upcoming biopic of the former heavyweight boxing champion.

As well as his acting work he was also involved with community projects and charities and had a particular interest in prison reform. Using his fame to promote social justice, in 2015 he became an 'ambassador for ending mass incarceration' for the American Civil Liberties Union.

He is survived by his son Elijah.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.