Michael K. Williams, who played rogue robber of drug traffickers Omar Little on “The Wire,” creating one of television’s most beloved and iconic characters, died on Monday.
Williams was discovered dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment by family members on Monday afternoon, according to New York City police. He was 54 years old at the time.
According to the NYPD, his death was being examined as a probable narcotics overdose. The cause of death was being investigated by the medical examiner.
Little, a “stick-up guy” based on real-life Baltimore characters, was possibly the most popular character among fans of HBO’s “The Wire,” which aired from 2002 to 2008 and is still available on demand.
For more than two decades, Williams worked as a character actor in numerous shows and films, including as Chalky White in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” from 2010 to 2014, as well as roles in “12 Years a Slave” and “Assassin’s Creed.” For his role in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” he has been nominated for an Emmy. His first win in four nominations would come at the Sept. 19 ceremony.
As Little, he portrayed a hardened criminal with a rigorous moral code who profited from a reputation for toughness that wasn’t necessarily earned.
Williams had previously worked in small TV appearances and as a backup dancer for hip-hop artists before landing the job, and he admitted that his fame began to follow him in real life.
In a 2020 Associated Press report, he talked about his difficult childhood and stated he fought with drug addiction, which he had previously discussed openly in interviews.