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In the wake of Michael K. Williams’ death on Monday, Hollywood figures took to social media to pay tribute to the actor best known for his roles on The Wire and Lovecraft Country. Williams was found dead at his home in Brooklyn on Monday. He was 54.
When They See Us creator Ava DuVernay offered a lengthy tribute to Williams on Instagram, of whom she called “the King.”
“I remember the times you’d come on set even when you weren’t on the call sheet. Just to share a hug. To cheer us on. Strolling in like the King that you were. For just a flash to give some love – then gone. I remember nights out in NYC that summer and how you were so loved by the folks in your city. I remember our work on the work, always connected and communicating and excavating and building because you were so open and ready to give your all. I remember you sending me a picture of yourself as a young man and sharing with me that the boys whose story we were telling were a reflection of you – and we were going to get it right,” Duvernay wrote.
“I remember you taking the young actors to the beach on your own and talking to them about things I couldn’t – about being a young, Black man in New York at the time – and how grateful I was,” she continued. “I remember the last text you sent me introducing me to your friend ‘Ava’ that you met Day One in your trailer – and me not believing that you kept your start-of-production gift for three whole years. I remember you speaking of mortality, like you did in your post last year about Kobe. In it, you wonder how you’ll be remembered and what your legacy will be. Maya Angelou once said, your legacy lives on in every life you touch. You, brother, touched many. Through your personal interactions big and small, through your community activism, through your struggles, through your triumphs, through your glorious work. You moved many. You moved me. What you doubted in life, be certain of now, dear brother. Be certain. You were a flash of love – now gone. But never forgotten. Promise.”
Niecy Nash also took to Instagram to share thoughts on her When They See Us co-star, writing “You were a beautiful soul, a kind spirit & a good time… a talent beyond measure. Thank you for the many times we traded energy and you made me feel like family. You left us too soon… Praying for your loved ones.”
The Wire creator David Simon shared on Twitter he was “too gutted” to share everything “that ought to be said.” He offered a short statement for the moment, writing of Williams: “Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he always deserved the best words. And today those words won’t come.”
Wendell Pierce, who starred as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire, wrote of his late co-star: “The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss. A immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody. His name was Michael K. Williams. He shared with me his secret fears then stepped out into his acting with true courage, acting in the face of fear, not in the absence of it. It took me years to learn what Michael had in abundance.”
“He was proud of the artist he had become, asking for my advice long after he had surpassed any incite I could have shared,” Pierce continued on Twitter. “Always truthful, never inauthentic. The kindest of persons. Like two mischievous kids, we would laugh & joke whenever we would meet. Like Baltimore years ago, THE WIRE brought us together and immortalized Omar & Bunk in that ‘scene’ on a park bench. But for us we aimed to take that moment in time together and say something about Black men. Our struggle with ourselves, internally, and each other. For me & Mike we had nothing but respect. So to you, my brother Mike, there is a small comfort that I know, you knew how much we loved you.”
Jamie Hector, who also co-starred with Williams on The Wire, told The Hollywood Reporter, “I can’t believe that Mike is gone, I don’t want to believe it. I just spoke to him last week, and we planned to meet at a new restaurant in Harlem this week. He was amazingly talented, extremely generous, and a really, really good friend. Mike tried to take care of everyone. He tried to help everyone. I’m really going to miss him. My condolences to his family.”
Riz Ahmed worked alongside Williams on the 2016 HBO miniseries The Night Of. “This is a devastating loss,” he said in a statement to THR. “Michael K Williams gave us some of TV’s most iconic characters. He had a strength and sensitivity that rarely go together, all wrapped up in a style uniquely his own, both on and off set. His talent was only matched by the size of his heart – he was incredibly generous. He looked out for me in many ways when we worked together. His work is already timeless, and it will live on.”
Aldis Hodge expressed his disbelief over Williams’ passing on Instagram, writing “I can’t even believe this. Rest in power, Mike. You were always a good brother. A fantastic artist and an even better human being. We’ll miss you.”
Giancarlo Esposito said of the actor on Instagram, “I have never met a more loving, caring, beautiful human being. A true friend and thespian. I will forever miss you my dear brother. Godspeed.”
Billy Porter resurfaced a 2017 New York Times article on Williams’ Wire role of Omar, who was openly gay in the series. “We lost our beautiful brother today. In 2017, the @nytimes wrote: ‘typecasting is still woefully commonplace, and black actors are still forced into one-dimensional roles. Mr. Williams has made a mission of depicting his community in all of its nuance and variety.’ And that included pushing up against heteronormative stereotypes and exploring queer storylines with range, thoughtfulness, ugliness, tenderness, and grace. Thank you. And R.I.P.”
Leslie Jones reflected on working with Williams on 2016’s Ghostbusters, stating on Instagram: “He was so nice to me when we did ghostbusters and we bonded on many levels!! Damn I was just thinking the next time I saw him I was gonna tell him how dope of an actor he is. Damn y’all we lost a good one. Rest in love my brother.”
Jesse Collins shared gratitude to Williams for their work together on DMX’s moving tribute at the 2021 BET Awards. Williams channeled the late rapper, who died in April of this year, memorializing his work with a musical tribute. “Honored to work with you on the DMX tribute. Thank u for all that u gave us. REST IN POWER!,” Collins wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of Williams’ performance.
Among Williams’ most recent performances was Montrose Freeman in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, for which he received a 2021 Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series. But the frequent HBO star was best known for his roles as Omar Little in The Wire and as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire.
Read more tributes below.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) September 6, 2021
Michael K. Williams was a god damn genius, a black queer icon who challenged the ideas of black masculinity at a time when it wasn't easy and a truly great dude. A huge loss.
— Travon Free (@Travon) September 6, 2021
Michael K Williams was a beautiful, passionate, expansive soul. I felt so lucky to have known him, and we were all so fortunate to have enjoyed his incredible talent. He burned so very bright.
Rest in power, MKW.
You will forever be The King. pic.twitter.com/LuFY0tG9NA
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) September 6, 2021
For years Wikipedia listed Michael K. Williams as my brother. Neither one of us chose to correct it, instead we took it at its word. “We’re brothers, yo.” He shared poems with me. We broke bread & kicked it whenever we could. A deep & sincere connection. A beautiful spirit. 💔💔
— Saul Williams (@SaulWilliams) September 6, 2021
Michael K Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met. This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those who loved him. ❤️
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 6, 2021
Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams. One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul.
May you RIP. God bless.
— Isiah Whitlock Jr. (@IsiahWhitlockJr) September 6, 2021
— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) September 6, 2021
So heartbroken. @BKBMG thank you for the beauty and joy you brought to the world. Sending love and prayers to your friends, family and everyone who adored you 🙏🏾 me included ❤️ We adore you Sir. pic.twitter.com/R3ER7a8iTi
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 6, 2021
Among the greatest performances tv and film has ever seen – https://t.co/sOzbvsLVNC
— John Cusack (@johncusack) September 6, 2021
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) September 7, 2021
I feel punched in gut to learn we’ve lost Michael K Williams. Soul anguished. Getting to work with him was one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my career. My admiration for his talent was boundless, like so many. If he was in a scene he was the best thing about it. Period.
— Edward Norton (@EdwardNorton) September 6, 2021
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) September 6, 2021
— Lance Reddick (@lancereddick) September 7, 2021
— Lance Reddick (@lancereddick) September 7, 2021
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