There’s some downright devastating news coming out today that we feel totally gutted to report: Actor Michael K. Williams is dead at 54.
The news of Williams’ passing was first reported by the New York Post today, with a potential cause being a possible overdose. It’s difficult to know where or how to best describe this man’s career, since we are talking about a legend in television and perennially one of the most underrated actors of our time.
We understand that most viewers out there will best know Williams for his role as Omar on The Wire and we understand that; he was brilliant in capturing the nuance of that complicated man. But Michael’s brilliance also extended so far beyond just this individual role. He made a name for himself across a number of fantastic HBO shows, whether it be Boardwalk Empire, The Night Of, or most recently Lovecraft Country. Although he was nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards during his career he never won a trophy, which has to be one of the gravest of injustices in the Television Academy’s overall history. (The Wire in particular is well-known for its snubs.)
We know that a number of people out there may be familiar with some of Williams’ HBO work, so what we would like to do for a moment here is focus in some underrated gems that people should go back and watch in celebration of his talent. He had a fantastic three-episode arc on Community that showed more of his comedic chops, something that you didn’t get a chance to see all that much amidst some of the dramas that he did. Meanwhile, you should also take a look at the criminally-overlooked Hap and Leonard, a series that was personal and had such a distinct style and tone to it. We’d argue that Leonard remains one of Williams’ best overall performances and a treasure in a crowded field of brilliance.
Williams will be missed dearly, but us, all TV fans, but most importantly everyone who knew and loved him. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during what has to be an extremely difficult time.