TV | September 6, 2021 5:24 pm

Michael K. Williams, “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire” Actor, Dead at 54

Most recently, he was nominated for an Emmy for "Lovecraft Country"

Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams is seen in his award show look for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images

To portray one iconic character on film or television is more than most actors achieve over the course of their careers. Over the last 20 years, Michael K. Williams embodied several, to stunning effect. Sadly, Monday afternoon brought the news that Williams, 54, had been found dead at his home in Brooklyn. Following initial reports of his death, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed it. “It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss,” his publicist Marianna Shafran said in a statement.

At the time of his death, Williams was among the nominees for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for his work in the acclaimed HBO series Lovecraft Country. Williams achieved his greatest fame through roles in two other HBO series — as Omar Little in The Wire and Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. Both offered him the opportunity to portray morally complex and deeply compelling characters onscreen.

As his colleagues and reporters who covered him took to social media to pay tribute to him, one theme recurred — that of a man with abundant kindness, who was willing to share that with others. Sometimes that came via his work with nonprofit organizations; sometimes it came through moments of spontaneous joy in public.

Besides the three HBO series mentioned above, Williams’s filmography includes a host of other acclaimed works — including roles in the films Inherent Vice and Gone Baby Gone and on television with Hap and Leonard, Community, When They See Us and The Night Of. Whether a stark procedural or an absurdist comedy, Williams always brought something new and vital to his roles. It’s heartbreaking to know that that career has now reached its end.