Michael K. Williams found dead
American actor Michael K Williams, best known for starring in HBO drama series The Wire, has been found dead in his New York apartment. He was 54.
US media quote law enforcement sources as saying he died from a suspected drug overdose. This has not been officially confirmed.
Williams – who was nominated for three Emmy Awards – had openly discussed his struggles with drugs over the years.
In The Wire, he played Omar Little, a gay, streetwise robber of drug gangs.
He was also known for playing Albert “Chalky” White, a powerful gangster, in the Prohibition period TV series Boardwalk Empire.
New York Police Department spokesman John Grimpel said police went to Williams’s Brooklyn apartment after receiving an emergency call at 14:00 local time on Monday.
In a statement, HBO TV network, which aired 60 episodes of The Wire between 2002 and 2008, said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years.
“While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.”
Born in New York in 1966, Williams began his career as a dancer and performed with Madonna and George Michael before moving into acting, with companies including the prestigious National Black Theatre Company.
In a BBC interview in 2018, Williams explained why The Wire was such a successful series.
“I think it has just stayed with people because it’s still relevant now, because of the climate of what’s going on in the United States. I think it’s actually a little sad,” he said.
“It was the first show I saw that was created as what I call ‘edutainment’. It dived so honestly into what was wrong in our society, from the police department to our lawmakers to our school system, and the media. It represented what was happening in our community.”
The actor had also publicly admitted his personal struggles with drugs over the years, even when he was starring in The Wire.
“I was playing with fire,” he said in an interview with news website NJ.com in 2012.
“It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail – or worse,” Williams said.
Fellow actors and filmmakers have been paying tribute on social media. (BBC)