Celebrated actor Michael K. Williams, best known for his role in “The Wire” was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse Monday afternoon, law-enforcement sources told The Post.
Williams, 54, was discovered face-down and unconscious in the dining room of his luxury Williamsburg pad with what appeared to be a large amount of heroin on the kitchen table, sources said.
One of the acclaimed actor’s nephews talked to him Friday, and Williams was supposed to show up to an event Saturday but never made it, sources said.
A nephew then went to Williams’ home Monday, and someone called cops to the address at 440 Kent Ave. just before 2 p.m., saying there was a man there who was “unresponsive’’ and “feels cold,’’ sources told the New York Post.
Williams was a beast on screen. If you remember him from the critically-acclaimed HBO sereis, “The Wire” one of his iconic scenes was his character, Omar Little, whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” walking down the street. And by the time he strides around the corner of the West Baltimore block, a shotgun visibly dangling beneath his trademark long trench coat, his character has sent an entire drug crew running scared. They sprint down a nearby alley, right into the trap the larger-than-life stickup artist has laid for them, and when he gets a look at a gaudy necklace hanging from the leader’s neck, he stops whistling and smugly speaks the next lyric aloud: “Yeah, the cheese stands alone.”
Before his infamous roles on “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire”, Williams was a dancer. As a young man, he appeared in music videos starring artists like Madonna, George Michael, Missy Elliott, Genuwine, Technotronix, just to name a few.
Then, on his 25th birthday, everything changed.
“There was a popping party going on in Queens,” Williams says. “I went outside to get some air, and I saw that two of my other friends were being surrounded by some dudes I didn’t know.”
Thinking his friends were about to get jumped, Williams told them it was time to go home.
That’s when someone else approached Williams from behind.
“The dude wiped his hand across his mouth and … smacked me,” he says. “What he did was he spit a razor. He was positioning the razor in his mouth to get it between his middle finger and ring finger. And then he swiped me down my face.”
That cut would leave the permanent scar we’ve come to know him to have now.
“We managed to escape with our lives, barely, that night,” he says.
After the attack, Williams’ career took a different turn. Directors didn’t want him to just dance in videos — they wanted him to act out thug roles.
Then Tupac Shakur and Mickey Rourke were filming a movie in New York called Bullet. The production office happened to… …have a Polaroid picture of Williams, and Tupac himself selected Williams for the role of his little brother.
“I think he saw my pain, my struggle, my heart,” Williams says. “I was starstruck. I was like, ‘Wow, this is Tupac Shakur.’”
After filming Bullet, Williams booked roles on Law and Order and The Sopranos. After those short roles, Williams thought the phone would be ringing, but that never happened. Williams saw his acting career slipping away.
“I was down in the dumps. I got really depressed,” he says. “Like, really depressed.”
Then, months later, Williams received an unexpected fax outlining a character in a new show called The Wire.
It was the part for Omar Little.
“I got to grow with an amazing group of people that I consider my Wire family,” Williams says. “That character changed my life. And that was my big break. I had a low self esteem growing up. You know I was just a corny kid growing up in the projects. And when I became Omar, it thrust me into the spotlight and forced me to grow up.”
This year’s BET Awards were brought to an emotional climax on Sunday night as the show memorialized rapper DMX, who died in April of this year. While a musical tribute was a given, what wasn’t as expected was a full-bodied theatrical performance from Michael K. Williams channeling the late rapper himself. In a career-spanning performance that also featured Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Swizz Beatz, The Lox, Griselda, and members of the Ruff Ryders, Williams appeared onstage, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the actual DMX, where he delivered a passionate monologue that had everyone in awe.
Rest in Peace, Michael. We love you.