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Michael K. Williams was remembered in a powerful essay written by The Wire creator David Simon over the weekend, which explained how important the iconic HBO series was to the actor. Simon also spoke of the last time Williams played Omar Little.
The beloved Williams died Sept. 6. He was 54.
In his piece published Sunday in The New York Times, Simon noted that he asked Williams to play his iconic character one more time years after the series was over as a favor while Simon was sponsoring a battle of the bands for charity featuring New Orleans and Baltimore musicians.
“Wendell Pierce, an actor native to New Orleans, would hype the local acts in the guise of his Treme character. I asked Mike to fly down, on almost no notice, and intro the Baltimore acts in the persona of Omar Little,” Simon wrote. “He was there at the asking. For a few hours, I watched him inhabit that character one last time. When it was over, we stood outside the club, and I watched a weight descend as he slipped back into Michael from Flatbush, the gentle, self-effacing and utterly committed professional who never gave a camera the wrong moment, but who somehow never took enough comfort from that great skill, who was always, I came to understand, looking for it to mean more.”
Continued Simon, “‘Was that what you wanted?’ he asked. ‘Did that go OK?’ I felt ashamed for having asked for one last, selfless favor from my friend. But he had my back. Always. Along with the talent, charm and honesty, I’ll miss that part, too.”
In an interview a year ago, Williams admitted that saying goodbye to Omar was a serious struggle for him.
“I get to have these characters show me parts of myself that I can fix or make better or get rid of or just take a look at, in particular with Omar,” Williams said then. “He was fearless. He was outspoken. He didn’t care what anyone thought about him, except the ones he loved.”
He continued, “I was the complete polar opposite. I was frightened a lot of times growing up. I had very low self-esteem and a huge need to be accepted. The only thing that I knew I shared with Omar was his sensitivity, and his ability to love and his ability to love deep.”
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