Michael K Williams, who indelibly played stick-up man and street philosopher Omar Little in the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, was found dead on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. According to a report in The New York Post, the possible cause of death is a heroin overdose. Williams was 54.
A professional dancer and theatre artist, Williams was picked by rapper Tupac Shakur on account of a distinctive facial scar to star in the film Bullet in 1996. After small roles in shows that included The Sopranos and Alias, Williams became a star with the HBO series The Wire (2002-2008).
Created by David Simon, the five-season series was notionally about a police wiretap operation to take down a pair of powerful drug lords and more fundamentally about the decline of public institutions in Baltimore city.
Omar Little, an openly gay criminal who robs drug dealers and lives by his own code, became one of the show’s most loved characters and one of its unusual moral centres.
Williams’s other television projects included Boardwalk Empire, Lovecraft Country, Community and When They See Us. His films included 12 Years A Slave, SuperFly and Motherless Brooklyn.