The Wire star Michael K. Williams found dead in New York apartment aged 54

The actor was reportedly found dead on Monday (6 September).


Words: Will Stroude; Images: HBO

The Wire star Michael K. Williams has been found dead at his home in New York, aged 54.

The New York Post reports that the actor was found dead in his New York apartment by his nephew on Monday afternoon (6 September).

No cause of death has been confirmed.

Williams, who appeared in HBO's Boardwalk Empire and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, was perhaps best-known for role as gay Baltimore gangster Omar Little on five seasons of HBO drama The Wire from 2002-2008.

Williams himself did not identify as gay, but his acclaimed portrayal of Little stood as a landmark depiction of Black male queerness on cable network television at a time when such roles remained almost non-existent.

In 2016, Williams' turn as Little on The Wire topped a British Film Institute (BFI) poll of the UK's favourite onscreen performances by a Black actor.

Before making the transition to acting, Williams worked as a backup dancer in the early '90s for stars including Madonna and George Michael, and in 1994 he choreographed the video for Crystal Waters' single '100% Pure Love'.

In 2020, the three-time Emmy nominee played another notable LGBTQ role, appearing as closeted 1950s father Montrose Freeman in HBO drama series Lovecraft Country.