Michael K. Williams
|Michael K. Williams|
Williams in April 2012, at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Russian Winter.
|Born||Michael Kenneth Williams
November 22, 1966
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Years active||1995 – present|
Michael Kenneth Williams (born November 22, 1966) is an American actor best known for his portrayal of Omar Little on the HBO drama series The Wire, and of Albert "Chalky" White on HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
Life and career
Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York. After getting in some trouble as a youth, he enrolled at the National Black Theatre in New York City. He later got a job at a pharmaceutical company. Inspired by Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, he left school and quit his job, against the wishes of his family, to pursue a career as a dancer. During a year in which he was intermittently homeless, Williams visited record labels and dance studios looking for work. He got a job as a background dancer on a music tour for Kym Sims' dance anthem Too Blind To See It, which led to more work appearing as a dancer in videos and on tours, such as with George Michael, Madonna, as well as some modeling work. He also choreographed Crystal Waters' 1994 single 100% Pure Love.
Williams is well known for his large facial scar, which he received during a bar fight at age 25. The scar led to his being offered roles as a thug in music videos. He eventually embraced the scar, citing Seal's scarred face as an inspiration. His scar became his signature and earned him photo shoots with noted photographers like David LaChapelle.
Williams is known for his portrayal of Omar Little in The Wire, which began filming in 2002. The character was based on Donnie Andrews, as well as other crime figures in Baltimore. Williams received the part after only a single audition. He was initially told that the character was slated to appear in just seven episodes of the first season and feared that the character would be killed before the end of the season. However, creator David Simon stated that they always planned to keep the character as part of the continuing ensemble should the show be renewed beyond the first season.
For his portrayal of Omar, Williams was named by USA Today as one of ten reasons they still love television. The character was praised for his uniqueness in the stale landscape of TV crime dramas and for the wit and humor that Williams brings to the portrayal. Omar has been named as one of the first season's richest characters, a Robin Hood of Baltimore's west side projects. The Baltimore City Paper named the character one of their top ten reasons not to cancel the show and called him "arguably the show’s single greatest achievement". In 2007 he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Omar.
Williams pursued the role because he was intrigued by the character's contradictory nature. He felt the character's popularity stemmed from his honesty, lack of materialism, individuality and his adherence to his strict code. He feels that the role has been a breakthrough in terms of bringing attention to him and getting further roles. Williams has received both positive and negative reactions to the character's homosexuality and feels that he is successful in challenging attitudes and provoking discussion with the role. During the previous year, before the third season, he discovered Felicia Pearson (Snoop) in a Baltimore bar.
In 2008, then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama cited The Wire as his favorite television show, and called Omar Little his favorite character. About Omar, Obama said, "That’s not an endorsement. He's not my favorite person, but he's a fascinating character... he's the toughest, baddest guy on the show."
Williams had a recurring role on J. J. Abrams' Alias. He also had a recurring role on Abrams' produced Six Degrees. He has also made brief appearances on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (playing two different characters on two different seasons), Boston Legal, The Sopranos, Law & Order (playing three different characters on three different seasons), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also playing two different characters on two different seasons), Human Giant and Third Watch.
Williams makes a brief appearance as the shooter at the beginning of the music video for Young Jeezy's "Bury Me a G".
He appeared in The Kill Point as recurring guest star Q, a police sniper alongside The Wire co-stars J.D. Williams, Michael Hyatt and Leo Fitzpatrick. He auditioned for the starring role of Mr. Cat but was forced to take a smaller role due to scheduling conflicts; the part of Mr. Cat went to J.D. Williams instead. Williams played a Boston area detective named Devin Amronklin in the 2007 film Gone, Baby, Gone. The film is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, who has written for The Wire, and was adapted and directed by Ben Affleck. Amronklin is a recurring character in Lehane's Kenzie-Genarro series of books. Williams says that he enjoyed working with Affleck and characterized him as a passionate and hands-on director. The film also featured his co-star from The Wire, Amy Ryan.
He played Teddy, the former boyfriend of Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington) in the Chris Rock film I Think I Love My Wife. He played James, a policeman, in singer R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet". He also appeared in The Game's "Dreams" and "How We Do" music videos, Tony Yayo's "It's a Stick Up" music video and Cam'ron's film Killa Season, as well as Trick Daddy's video "Tuck Your Ice In", Sheek Louch's "Good Love", and Young Jeezy's "Bury me a G" alongside his The Wire co-star Hassan Johnson. Williams played the role of The Thief in the 2009 film The Road, an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. In 2010, Williams appeared in the film Life During Wartime. The character he played, Allen, was portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film's predecessor, Happiness.
Williams also starred in the film A Day in the Life, which was directed, produced and stars rapper Sticky Fingaz. The entire film is a musical with every line being delivered in rap verse. Williams stars on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. As of 2010, he appears as Albert "Chalky" White, the leader of 1920s Atlantic City's black community.
On July 23, 2011, Community creator Dan Harmon revealed that Williams would star in "at least three episodes" of the sitcom's third season. He plays the role of Biology Professor Marshall Kane at Greendale Community College. In November 2011 it was announced that Quentin Tarantino has written a new character into the script of his new film Django Unchained. Williams, who had previously confirmed that he was actually in talks with Tarantino to take on the titular role of Django, was to portray a minor character in the film, but scheduling conflicts with Boardwalk Empire prevented him from doing so.
On May 16, 2012, Williams announced that he is an executive producer of the independent film Snow On Tha Bluff, Williams' first film under his company, Freedome Productions. On Power 105fm's The Breakfast Club, Williams revealed the June 19th release date for Snow on tha Bluff, describing the movie as "real graphic": "everything that is wrong with the 'hood is in this movie".
- Mugshot (1995)
- Bullet (1996)
- Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
- Broke even (2000)
- Doing Hard Time (2004)
- Guile (2005)
- "Trapped in the Closet (Chapters 1-12)" (2005)
- The Orphan King (2005)
- Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club (2006)
- The Bondage (2006)
- Mercenary for Justice (2006)
- 5up 2down (2006)
- "Trapped in the Closet (Chapters 13-22)" (2007)
- "Trapped in the Closet: The BIG Package" (2007)
- I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
- Gone Baby Gone (2007)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- KeAnthony: a hutlaz story (2008)
- Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
- Tell-Tale (2009)
- Addicts (2009)
- The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll (2009)
- A Day in the Life (2009)
- Life During Wartime (2009)
- A Kiss of Chaos (2009)
- You're Nobody 'til Somebody Kills You (2009)
- A Day in the Life (film) (2009)
- The Road (2009)
- Wonderful World (2009)
- Brooklyn's Finest (2010)
- The Cookout 2 (2011)
- Bayou Black (2011) Short
- Luv (2012)
- Crispus Attucks: Today was a Good Day (2012) Short
- W8 (Weight) (2012) Short
- The Wire: The Musical (2012) Short
- Nobody's Nobody's (2012) Short
- Trapped in the Closet: The Next Installment (Chapters 23-33) (2012)
- 12 Years a Slave (2013)
- Snitch (2013)
- They Die by Dawn (2013) short
- The Devil Goes Down (2013) short
- RoboCop (2014)
- Kill the Messenger (2014)
- Inherent Vice (2014)
- Law & Order (1997, 2001, 2009) (three episodes)
- Deadline (2001) (one episode)
- The Sopranos (2001) (one episode)
- Third Watch (2002) (one episode)
- The Wire (2002–2008) (forty-two episodes)
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2003, 2006) (two episodes)
- Lackawanna Blues (2005) (television film)
- Alias (2005) (three episodes)
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2005, 2010) (two episodes)
- Boston Legal (2005) (one episode)
- Six Degrees (2006–2007) (three episodes)
- The Kill Point (2007) (seven episodes)
- Human Giant (2008) (one episode)
- CSI: NY (2008) (one episode)101/V
- The Philanthropist (2009) (eight episodes)
- Boardwalk Empire 2010-present (series regular)
- Detroit 1-8-7 (2011)
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2011) (one episode)
- Community (2011–2012)
- Walk This Way (2013) (7 episodes)
- High School USA! (2013) (1 episode)
- Battlefield 4 (2013)
- Robert Bianco (2004-05-26). "10 Reasons we still love TV". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
- Chris Barsanti (2004). "The Wire - The Complete First Season". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2006-07-20.
- Brent McCabe and Van Smith (2005). "Down to the wire: Top 10 reasons not to cancel the wire.". Baltimore city paper. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
- Interview on Fresh Air, January 22, 2008. Williams began to work (in these videos) with some of the biggest names in the business such as Madonna and Crystal Waters.
- Justin Kaufmann (September 23, 2011). "Wikipedia Files: Michael K. Williams (Omar from 'The Wire')". WBEZ. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- TIME Online Q&A Nov. 25, 2009. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1942833,00.html
- Fenton, Justin (2012-12-14). "Donnie Andrews, inspiration for Omar character on "The Wire," dies". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
- Murphy, Joel (2005). "One on one with... Michael K. Williams". Hobo Trashcan. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
- "2007 Image Award nominees and winners". Hollywood Reporter. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-05.[dead link]
- Michael Ricci. "The Wire's Michael K. Williams on Playing Gay". After Elton. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
- "Chicago Tribune: Barack Obama on his favorite TV show". Featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com. 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- Alan Sepinwall (2007). "'The Kill Point' proves formulas can pay off". New Jersey Star Ledger. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- Charles McGrath (2008-05-27). "'At the End of the World, Honing the Father-Son Dynamic". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
- Josef Adalian (2011-07-23). "Breaking: The Wire's Michael K. "Omar" Williams Is Headed to Community". Retrieved 2011-07-23.
- "Michael K Williams Interview". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
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