Many were expecting Michael K. Williams to win a posthumous Emmy, however Emmy voting ended August 30, a week before Williams died of a possible drug overdose. The actor was heavily favored to win best drama supporting actor for HBO’s now canceled Lovecraft Country, but Tobias Menzies took “the crown” instead as Prince Philip on Netflix’s The Crown.
The New York Post first reported his death on September 6, 2021. The mesmerizing actor and five-time Emmy nominee was best known for his role as Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire as well as Montrose Freeman on HBO’s Lovecraft Country, for which he received a 2021 Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series, plus Bobby McCray, the father of Antron McCray (Caleel Harris), who convinced his son to sign a false confession, in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries about the Central Park Five, When They See Us.
The unique gravelly-voiced Williams also starred as angry Vietnam veteran Leonard Pine for three seasons on the SundanceTV drama Hap and Leonard, racketeer Chalky White on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire for which he shared a Screen Actors Guild Award with the cast of Boardwalk Empire for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and inmate Freddy Knight in HBO’s miniseries The Night Of. Williams also dipped his toe into comedy in his role in the TV show Community, where he guest starred in 3 episodes as Professor Marshall Kane.
He even received accolades from President Barack Obama who said in 2012 that Williams’ portrayal of Omar was his favorite character on “The Wire,” adding, “That guy is unbelievable,” in reference to Williams’ character.
Williams, 54, was discovered face-down and unresponsive in the dining room of his luxury Williamsburg pad with what appeared to be heroin on the kitchen table. Williams was born in Brooklyn on Nov. 22, 1966. His mother was from the Bahamas and his father from South Carolina.
News of his passing triggered a whirlwind of posts from fans and colleagues who were shocked to hear the news.
Kerry Washington made sure the late Michael K. Williams was honored at the 2021 Emmy Awards by giving a special tribute to Williams while presenting the Emmy on Sunday for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series, for which Williams was nominated for his role in Lovecraft Country. Before opening the envelope to announce the winner, Washington beautifully paid tribute to Williams’ unrivaled passion for the arts saying,
“The nominees for this next award astounded us with each of their uniquely remarkable, memorable performances this past year. But I’d like to take a moment to mention one nominee in particular, Michael K. Williams, Michael was…so crazy to say, ‘was’, a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who has left us far too soon. Michael, your excellence and artistry will endure. We love you.I know you are here because you wouldn’t miss it.”
Jurnee Smollett’s Emmys look featured a subtle tribute to her Lovecraft Country co star Michael K. Williams with her long locks into a twisted updo with volume on top and a sentimental hair accessory featuring William’s initials pinned in the back.
After his passing, Smollett shared an emotional video tribute from the Lovecraft Country set, showing the cast surprising Williams with a birthday cake. “We love you,” she captioned the behind-the-scenes clip.
As we mentioned earlier, many believed Williams would win the Emmy for his performance in HBO’s Love Country, however Tobias Menzies ended up taking it home instead. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Menzies took to twitter to dedicate his win to Williams: