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Watch The Wire Cast Pay Tribute To Michael K. Williams As The HBO Show Turns 20 Years Old

They are two of the scariest words used in a television program: “Omar coming.” This warning, shouted by people as the streets of Baltimore cleared, meant that Michael K. Williams’ lethal and unpredictable stick-up man Omar Little was fast approaching, so get the hell out of his way. Omar usually targeted gangs who were slinging drugs around his neighborhoods, robbing from both the Barksdale and Stanfield crews and earning enemies from the crooks and cops that populated the tremendous HBO series, The Wire. Sadly, Williams died from drug intoxication in September 2021 at the age of 54. But his mark as Omar was left on the cast and crew of the HBO series (which is how we cooked up these 12 great Michael K. Williams movies and shows), and they opened up to CinemaBlend about his impact during a recent conversation for the show’s 20th anniversary. 

The Wire turns 20 this year, and is available to own on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, as well as to stream on HBO Max. The show ran for five seasons, and Omar Little was a thorn in the side of the characters for the saga’s entire run. Not Michael K. Williams, though. The actor was beloved by his cast as well as the series creator, David Simon, who opened up about Williams’ contributions to the show when he told CinemaBlend:

The thing I will always remember about Michael, and it’s maybe selfish of me because there’s so much too him and he lived such a life, and we was such a talent. But as a writer, and as somebody who was trying to shepherd a big, unwieldy, universal show about a lot of things in Baltimore and a lot of things in American life. When we went into that second season… Michael looked at first scripts and he came into my office and he said, ‘Why? Why are you running away from the show we were building for a season?’ And I misapprehended. I’d worked with a lot of actors and I thought, ‘Oh, he’s counting lines, and he doesn’t have as much work.’ And instead, he very much pulled me up and said, ‘No, no. I don’t care about the number of lines. I want to know what you are doing.’ … And then he became this incredible ally of the entirety of the show.

And what an ally he was. Though The Wire could balance a number of juicy storylines involving politicians, police, and charismatic criminals, Michael K. Williams’ Omar is the one who resonated with so many audience members by showing them something they’d never seen before. That’s what a choked-up Lance Reddick tried to explain as he held back tears and said of Williams:

That character was so special, in so many ways. So iconic. To be an openly gay gangster that’s NOT a cartoon. That was so three dimensional that you cared for him at every moment, and the way that he played it. The fact that even though he was a gangster, he operated from such an extreme code, a strict code, of personal integrity that he almost seemed like a hero.

It’s nearly impossible to choose the best episode of The Wire, or even to single out the work done by, say, co-star Dominic West as the unforgettable McNulty. But as the show turns 20, fans can celebrate what’s easily one of the bet things to stream on HBO Max (opens in new tab), and even  use the streaming service to try David Simon’s next story, We Own This City, with Jon Bernthal.  

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.