The Wire's Michael K. Williams Dead at 54

Emmy-nominated actor Michael K. Williams, who starred in The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and Lovecraft Country, passed away on Monday, Sept. 6.

By McKenna Aiello Sep 06, 2021 8:42 PMTags
Watch: Celebrities Pay Tribute to Late "The Wire" Star Michael K. Williams

Hollywood is mourning the unexpected loss of Michael K. Williams.

The actor—who had starring roles on HBO's The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and Lovecraft Country—died on Monday, Sept. 6 at the age of 54.

A representative for Williams told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, "It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss."

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed to E! News that Williams was found deceased inside his home at approximately 2:00 p.m. local time. 

In just a few weeks, Williams was due to attend the 2021 Emmys on Sept. 19, where his performance as Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country earned him a nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category.

News of Williams' death sent shockwaves across the entertainment industry, as his peers and former colleagues remembered his contributions on and off the screen. 

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Pauley Perrette, who worked alongside Williams on When We Rise, remembered the actor as her "beloved brother," writing on Twitter, "I am… I love you. We were like kids when we met. In our 20's, Dancing around NYC. And then our talks as 'grown ups'. Forever and forever in my heart. I love you."

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"Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams," Isiah Whitlock Jr. tweeted. "One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul. May you RIP. God bless." 

Aisha Tyler described Williams as 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." 

Wendell Pierce, who starred opposite Williams on The Wire, tweeted, "The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss. [An] 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."

Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

Across his decades-long career, which also included time spent as a backup dancer, Williams was recognized with three additional acting Emmy nominations for his roles in BessieThe Night Of and When They See Us. His film credits included notable projects such as 12 Years a SlaveGone Baby Gone and Inherent Vice

The Brooklyn native also co-hosted the docuseries Black Market With Michael K. Williams, which aired on VICELAND and followed the actor as he explored the global illicit trade. 

Just prior to his death, multiple outlets reported Williams had been cast to play boxing legend George Foreman's trainer, Doc Broadus, in an upcoming biopic.

Williams' time in the spotlight, he told Men's Health in Oct. 2020, inspired him to focus on "instilling pride" in the next generation of thought leaders like himself. 

"By me showing up and walking around," he explained at the time, "I let them know that I still care about this community, that they still matter to me. I spent a lot of my younger years not feeling beautiful. When I look back at my pictures now as a kid, I'm like, 'Damn, you were actually beautiful.' I couldn't see it back then. That's a large thing that makes me go back to working with the youth in my community. I let them know that they're beautiful." 

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