We’re remembering the life of actor Michael K. Williams, who died earlier this month. He was 54 years old.
He was best known for playing Omar Little on The Wire. Omar was a stick-up man. He lived both outside the law and under the constant threat of retaliation from the drug dealers he robbed. He took his grandma to church. Was deeply in love with his boyfriend Brandon. An iconic David Simon character.
Michael began his career in entertainment first as a dancer in New York, then an actor with a handful of walk-on credits. By the time he auditioned for The Wire he was in his mid-30s. He’d lived a whole life.
Williams went on to more roles. He played Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire. Most recently, his vulnerable portrayal of Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country, earned him his fifth Emmy nomination.
When Jesse Thorn talked with him in 2016, he was starring in a show called Hap and Leonard. He played Leonard, a Vietnam vet turned Private Investigator. The show aired for 3 seasons on the Sundance Channel.
When we heard the news about Williams’ passing, we went into the archives to listen back to our conversation. There’s some stuff you might’ve heard in the past, a lot of stuff you haven’t.
In this conversation, Michael talked about his memories of being a New York club kid, the difference that playing Omar made in his life, and the gig that made him realize that being a performer could be a career.
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About the show
Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.
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