The entertainment world was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Michael K Williams at the age of 54 last night.
The dancer-turned-actor brought buckets of natural charisma to every role, but it was as the shotgun-toting, whistling ‘stick-up man’ Omar Little in The Wire that he is most fondly remembered.
Every scene involving Omar vibrated with electricity, a sense that something wild was just about to happen.
On street corners controlled by ruthless drug lords and patrolled by undercover cops, his brazen acts seemed ridiculously kamikaze.
He was the ultimate anti-hero, and you couldn’t help but root for him.
Behind the fearsome gun-slinger there was a sensitive soul who cared for his grandma and had a strict code of never harming “civilians”, as he scorched his path through East Baltimore.
His character’s homosexuality also broke new ground, set as The Wire was in a world of deeply-rooted and toxic masculinity where kingpin Avon Barksdale doubles the bounty on Omar’s head when he learns he’s gay.
In a memorable scene where he is testifying in court Omar is faced with everything he is not, in the shape of Barksdale’s white, overweight, middle-class lawyer Marcel Levy, who calls him a “parasite” for robbing from drug dealers.
But Omar counters, winning over the jury with his street-honed wit and wisdom: “I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all the game though, right?”
Michael K Williams may not have been a household name, but he was one of the finest character actors of his generation.
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