Celebrities Remember Michael K. Williams Following His Death: "A Talent Beyond Measure"
Stars are paying tribute to Michael K. Williams following his death. On Sept. 6, the actor's publicist, Marianna Shafran, confirmed the news in a statement shared with 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." Williams was well-known for his role as Omar Little on The Wire, which aired from 2002 to 2008 and starred in a number of other projects since, including Lovecraft Country, which earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.
Shortly after his death was announced, costars, friends, and fans of the actor began posting heartfelt tributes on social media. Director Ava DuVernay, who worked with Michael on When They See Us, remembered Michael's legacy on Instagram, writing, "Maya Angelou once said, your legacy lives on in every life you touch. You, brother, touched many. Through your personal interactions big and small, through your community activism, through your struggles, through your triumphs, through your glorious work. You moved many. You moved me. What you doubted in life, be certain of now, dear brother. Be certain. You were a flash of love - now gone. But never forgotten." Read ahead as more celebrities pay tribute to the actor.
Jurnee shared a sweet tribute on Instagram, writing, "My brother, my heart hurts so. A part of my brain refuses to accept it…sh*tty part about grief-it goes in stages. For me, it started w/ denial. When @jakesmollett called to tell me, my brain went 'hell naw that's not true, let me call Michael.' And I called him. I called him over & over until my brain said stop, he's gone. I couldn't breathe. Taken awhile for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin w/out him here in the physical form. He was supposed to be here with us this week in LA for the Emmys. He was supposed to see how big Hunter is, we were gonna dance, celebrate, cry. Instead our brother was laid to rest today. I still can't make sense of it. Perhaps it's selfish of me to want to hold onto this beautiful man that came into my life & forever changed it… One of the first scenes I did w/ @bkbmg was in episode 2 of @lovecrafthbo, Uncle George's death. We were racing the clock, losing sun, it was a long steady-cam shot, which began w/ me running into Jonathan/Atticus' arms. In an attempt to quiet the chaos, I looked at Michael/ MONTROSE, in the backseat of Woody, holding Uncle George in his arms, I could feel the pain held behind his eyes, my soul understood it. Thats the beauty of MKW's instrument- he threw his entire being into each moment w/ such bravery and sacrifice. Thats all I needed…simply look in Michael/ Montrose's eyes.
After finishing the scene, Courtney came over, held Jonathan, Michael & I as we cried in each other's arms like babies...No, like the sons & daughter of such familiar, profound paternal grief. We became the three musketeers afterwards. Our souls tied. We joked that we had a trans-physical connection. I can hear your voice now giving me another pep talk, 'J, get up, don't you know you're a fucking Queen!' I'll miss you when I listen to @raphael_saadiq Jimmy Lee, or hear @deepakchopra 21-day meditations, or when I try that one yoga pose you gave me tips on…your soft, baritone voice saying 'Hey Kiddo.' …I take comfort in knowing that you're finally free, somewhere dancing, being mighty, showing the angels how to really get it. Btw-You still owe me that dance…& our Bulls Jerseys. I love you #ripmichaelkwilliams"
In a statement to Variety, the Lovecraft Country actor remembered Michael, calling the actor "one of my dearest of friends and brothers." As he reflected on their friendship throughout the years, including working together on When We Rise and Lovecraft Country, he referred to Michael as "a guardian angel — a man who put others ahead of himself at every turn."
"On this day my heart sits in pieces, to have lost this warrior, this ferocious angel, this unique artist, my friend, the protector of the promise and my brother," he said. "Words fail, but I feel him near, watching over us all. Everyone he touched will understand that he is not far away. Though gone, he's closer than we think. Resting finally, taking his joy and might to another space and continuing with fervor the pledge 'I am my brother's keeper,' smiling that toothy grin, his eyes shining and his raspy voice whispering, 'I love you,' only now sporting his newly minted wings.
"Our angel. We love you, Michael. Thank you for your protection and your light."
The director shared a photo of the two at a basketball game, writing: "Whew Lawd,Dis Is A Tough Day-1st We Lose The Great French Actor JEAN PAUL BELMONDO And Now My Brother MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS. Our Brother Passed Away Today In His Home,Da People's Republic Of Brooklyn. I'm Shook. Drinking A Bottle Of Italian Red Wine-Brunello Di Montalcino By Myself. Our Greats Are Leaving Us Left And Right. GOD BLESS.🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿"
Jay shared a tribute on Instagram, writing: "Lord my heart hurts on this one😰, RIP @bkbmg , I can't believe I'm typing this just saw him a few weeks ago. Did my first movie w/him...one of the nicest, talented, and mosy humble folks you could ever meet the man cooked for us when we're staying in Miami at the Mutiny..all around good man and such a diverse actor it was beautiful to witness your star rise..sleep well homie🙏🏾 #michaelkwilliams"
Ava shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, writing: "I remember the times you'd come on set even when you weren't on the call sheet. Just to share a hug. To cheer us on. Strolling in like the King that you were. For just a flash to give some love - then gone. I remember nights out in NYC that summer and how you were so loved by the folks in your city. I remember our work on the work, always connected and communicating and exacavating and building because you were so open and ready to give your all. I remember you sending me a picture of yourself as a young man and sharing with me that the boys whose story we were telling were a reflection of you - and we were going to get it right. I remember you taking the young actors to the beach on your own and talking to them about things I couldn't - about being a young, Black man in New York at the time - and how grateful I was. I remember the last text you sent me introducing me to your friend 'Ava' that you met Day One in your trailer - and me not believing that you kept your start-of-production orchid for three whole years. I remember you speaking of mortality, like you did in your post last year about Kobe. In it, you wonder how you'll be remembered and what your legacy will be. Maya Angelou once said, your legacy lives on in every life you touch. You, brother, touched many. Through your personal interactions big and small, through your community activism, through your struggles, through your triumphs, through your glorious work. You moved many. You moved me. What you doubted in life, be certain of now, dear brother. Be certain. You were a flash of love - now gone. But never forgotten."
Niecy remembered the actor on Instagram, writing: "My God 💔 Rest well friend 🕊 @bkbmg You we're a beautiful soul, a kind spirit & a good time… a talent beyond measure. Thank you for the many times we traded energy and you made me feel like family. You left us too soon… Praying for your loved ones 🙏🏽 That last slide is my fav of us 🙌🏽 #TheWire #WhenTheySeeUs"
The actor, who worked with Michael on The Night Of, shared a statement with Variety, saying: "This is a devastating loss. Michael K. Williams gave us some of TV's most iconic characters. He had a strength and sensitivity that rarely go together, all wrapped up in a style uniquely his own, both on and off set. His talent was only matched by the size of his heart – he was incredibly generous. He looked out for me in many ways when we worked together. His work is already timeless, and it will live on.
"Once during a tough week of shooting, he finds he has an afternoon off. But I still have to shoot, and I'm struggling. I return to my trailer at the end of the day to find he's spent his time off at a store, buying me the nicest and probably most expensive jacket I own to this day. Little hand written note, made no big deal of it, he did it just to give me a boost and show love.
"Another time I go to his apartment to rehearse. I'm analyzing the hell out of the scenes. He tells me 'stop thinking about it, try dreaming about it.' Took me years to even understand. He brought heart to the art."
Courtney B. Vance
Leslie, who worked with Michael on Ghostbusters, shared a tribute on Instagram, writing: "Not gonna lie this one f*cked me up y'all!! Michael K. Williams was a solid dude. He was so nice to me when we did ghostbusters and we bonded on many levels!! Damn I was just thinking the next time I saw him I was gonna tell him how dope of an actor he is. Damn y'all we lost a good one. Rest in love my brother."
Michael's The Wire costar paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss. A 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.
"If you don't know, you better ask somebody. His name was Michael K. Williams. He shared with me his secret fears then stepped out into his acting with true courage, acting in the face of fear, not in the absence of it. It took me years to learn what Michael had in abundance.
"He was proud of the artist he had become, asking for my advice long after he had surpassed any incite I could have shared. Always truthful, never inauthentic. The kindest of persons. Like two mischievous kids, we would laugh & joke whenever we would meet. Like Baltimore years ago
"THE WIRE brought us together and immortalized Omar & Bunk in that 'scene' on a park bench.But for us we aimed to take that moment in time together and say something about Black men. Our struggle with ourselves, internally, and each other. For me & Mike we had nothing but respect
"So to you, my brother Mike, there is a small comfort that I know, you knew how much we loved you."
Jamie, who also costarred with Michael on The Wire, shared a statement to Variety. "I can't believe that Mike is gone, I don't want to believe it," Jamie said. "I just spoke to him last week, and we planned to meet at a new restaurant in Harlem this week. He was amazingly talented, extremely generous, and a really, really good friend. Mike tried to take care of everyone. He tried to help everyone. I'm really going to miss him. My condolences to his family."
Yvette Nicole Brown
Marlon remembered Michael on Instagram, writing: "Your last words to me was at the @respectmovie premiere you grabbed me by the neck, hugged me and said 'beautiful work brother'. That meant so much from you. I love you bro. So fucking talented, an amazing human and a gracious soul... rest well bro @bkbmg tell @mybadfuu 'what's goody'?!"
The actress shared a tribute to Michael on Instagram, writing: "I met Michael K. Williams right after my audition for 12 Years A Slave. I sat next to him at dinner that night and was drawn to his kind eyes that were a direct contrast to the menacing scar that sat between them. He was soft spoken and warm. When I asked him about his scar - a question I quickly realized he must have gotten a million times, he gave me a smile and a light chuckle and said, 'I have lived many lives, Lupita.' And then he graciously told me the story, like he had never told it before... Michael went out of his way to make me feel like I belonged at a time when I really needed that reassurance. We clicked, exchanged contacts, and stayed in touch ever since. We expressed wanting to work together. We never will. But I did watch his work. And he mine. We sent each other encouraging messages from afar. I am glad he knew how much I valued him. I live on with the comfort of knowing he valued me too. As devastating as his passing is, I will continue to hold him warmly in my heart. #RIP @bkbmg"