The Wire Actor Michael K. Williams Is Dead At 54

michael k williams omar the wire hbo

Actor Michael K. Williams was found dead in his New York City apartment on the afternoon of Monday, September 6. Williams, beloved for his work in The Wire cast as Omar Little, is said to have been found while there was drug paraphernalia in his home, which, right now, suggests a possible drug overdose.

According to the New York Post, Williams was found dead in the living room of his Brooklyn penthouse by his nephew. 

Many fans of the late actor first came to know him through his portrayal on The Wire of famed Baltimore stick-up man, Omar, who frequently stole from street-level drug dealers. Williams was praised for his work as the feared thief, who was known to have a strict code of ethics that set him apart from the other, many, street-level criminals shown on the series.

While Omar chose not to use profanity, and also refused to hurt any innocent civilians who were not involved in criminal enterprises, he was still a legend to the other characters who was feared to the extent that if anyone heard him whistle his signature tune, they would simply warn others and get as far away from his target as possible. And, Michael K. Williams brought the appropriate amount of mystery and menace to the role, while also helping to show how even someone as dangerous and committed to a life of crime as Omar has many dimensions to their personality.

After leaving his temp job at a pharmaceutical company, Michael K. Williams pursued work as a dancer early on, eventually landing gigs in music videos and on tours for artists like Madonna and George Michael. He won his first acting role after being discovered by rapper Tupac Shakur, which led to Williams being cast in the film Bullet, which released in 1996.

He then went on to rack up over 100 credits in movies and television shows, always bringing his signature intensity, depth, and (frequently) humor to his parts. Along with his five seasons on The Wire, Williams was seen on shows like The Sopranos, Alias, CSI: NY, Community, F Is for Family, and Law & Order: SVU. Williams was in films such as the made for TV movie Lackawanna Blues, Gone Baby Gone, Miracle at St. Anna, The Purge: Anarchy, Inherent Vice, Assassin's Creed, Ghostbusters, SuperFly, Motherless Brooklyn, and The Red Sea Diving Resort.

Williams also had leading roles in shows like the Sundance TV series Hap and Leonard, Boardwalk Empire, and TV mini-series Bessie, The Night Of, When We Rise, and When They See Us. Recently, he'd appeared in the Emmy-nominated horror series Lovecraft Country, and had completed roles in the upcoming series Vital Signs, and the films Surrounded and 892. He was, himself, Emmy nominated for his work in Bessie, The Night Of, When They See Us, and Lovecraft Country, along with being nominated for executive producing a 2018 episode of the documentary news series, Vice

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Michael K. Williams at this difficult time.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.