Michael K. Williams, the star of HBO’s “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire,” was found dead Monday at his Brooklyn apartment, an official at the New York Police Department told TheWrap. The five-time Emmy nominee was 54 at the time of his death.
The NYPD is investigating his death as a possible drug overdose, the Associated Press reported, although the medical examiner has not yet determined a cause of death.
According to individuals who spoke with the New York Post, a substance that appeared to be heroin was found on the kitchen table of Williams’ apartment. However, the NYPD could not confirm this information to TheWrap.
A police official told the New York Post that “no foul play” is indicated and there was “no forced entry” into Williams’ apartment.
Best known for playing Omar Little on the critically acclaimed “The Wire” and Chalky White on “Boardwalk Empire,” Williams’ most recently starred on “Lovecraft Country,” another HBO title, for which he recently received a supporting actor 2021 Emmy nomination and will be posthumously competing for the award later this month.
Among Williams’ other notable TV credits are “F Is for Family,” “When They See Us,” “Hap and Leonard,” “When We Rise,” “The Night Of,” “Community” and “Bessie.” On the film side, the actor is best known for his parts on “12 Years a Slave,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Inherent Vice,” “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Road.”
A representative for Williams did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Monday, but a spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “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 insurmountable loss.”
“We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years,” HBO said in a statement to TheWrap. “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.”
Williams was born and raised in Brooklyn by his Bahamian mother and South Carolina native father. He enrolled in the National Black Theatre in New York City as a teen to escape some troubles he faced in his youth.
“The Wire” star was known for his signature facial feature, a large scar he received when he was slashed with a razor blade during a bar fight in New York City on his 25th birthday. Williams recalled the incident in a June 2019 interview with TheWrap promoting “When They See Us,” Netflix’s Ava DuVernay-produced limited series about the Central Park Five.
“I got jumped by a group of African American and Hispanic guys on my 25th birthday,” he said. “I went out drinking with friends. I had liquid courage in me, I entertained a conversation that I (normally) would have run away from. Guys looking for trouble. I got tired of being picked on. I got jumped viciously.”
He paused, then remembered the violence of that night. “I know what it is to be violated. My life was on the line.”