As the news broke on Monday that Michael K. Williams had died at age 54 after being found in his Brooklyn residence, stars took to social media to remember the actor who made an impact in shows like “The Wire,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Night Of.”
Director Spike Lee paid tribute to Williams in an Instagram post, featuring a photo of him and Williams cheering on the New York Knicks. “Whew Lawd,Dis Is A Tough Day-1st We Lose The Great French Actor JEAN PAUL BELMONDO And Now My Brother MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS,” Lee wrote. “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.”
“The Night Of” star Riz Ahmed paid tribute to Williams’ generosity on set in a statement shared with Variety:
“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.”
Director James Gunn posted on Twitter, calling Williams one of the most talented actors around. “Michael K. Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met,” Gunn wrote. “This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those who loved him.”
Michael K Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met. This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those who loved him. ❤️
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 6, 2021
Kerry Washington posted Williams to her Instagram and spoke of the late star’s beauty. “So heartbroken. @bkbmg thank you for the beauty and joy you brought to the world. Sending love and prayers to your friends, family and everyone who adored you me included. We adore you, Sir.”
Leslie Jones took to Instagram and spoke of her experience with Williams on “Ghostbusters.” “Not gonna lie this one fucked 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.”
Director Ava DuVernay posted a long, heartfelt tribute on Instagram. “Maya Angelou once said, your legacy lives on in every life you touch. You, brother, touched many,” she wrote. “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.”
Courtney B. Vance also penned a remembrance of Williams, writing: “Michael worked hard in his work and throughout his life. He shared with us all how hard he tried to achieve sustained sobriety. I know Michael, the man, would want his life to serve as an important, teachable lesson for anyone who is in the midst of the very real struggle against addiction. As difficult as this moment is for us all, Michael has found peace.”
Stephen King called Williams fantastically talented. “Horrible, sad, and unbelievable to think we’ve lost the fantastically talented Michael K. Williams at the age of 54.”
Horrible, sad, and unbelievable to think we’ve lost the fantastically talented Michael K. Williams at the age of 54.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) September 6, 2021
Colman Domingo reflected on Williams’ acting skills. “Truly gutted on hearing the passing of Michael K. Williams,” he wrote. “A tremendous actor.”
Truly gutted on hearing the passing of Michael K. Williams. A tremendous actor.
— Colman Domingo (@colmandomingo) September 6, 2021
Williams’ “The Wire” co-star Wendell Pierce paid tribute to the actor in a heartfelt thread. “The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” Pierce wrote. “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/EvrESGSK8O
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) September 6, 2021
Jamie Hector, another “The Wire” co-star, remembered Williams in a statement to Variety. “I can’t believe that Mike is gone, I don’t want to believe it. I just spoke to him last week, and we planned to meet at a new restaurant in Harlem this week,” Hector said. “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.”
Joel McHale, who acted alongside Williams on “Community,” said: “Damn. Just damn. Mr. Williams was such a Good, kind, wonderful man. He was so funny on Community and, of course, an actor for the ages.”
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) September 6, 2021
Yvette Nicole Brown, who also acted alongside Williams on “Community,” said: “The thing about @BKBMG is that as fierce and foreboding as his characters often were, he as a man couldn’t have been more easy-going and lovely. He was a good, kind man and so fun to work with. I am sorry to hear of his passing and of how.”
The thing about @BKBMG is that as fierce and foreboding as his characters often were, he as a man couldn’t have been more easy-going and lovely.
He was good, kind man and so fun to work with.
I am sorry to hear of his passing and of how. 😔
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) September 6, 2021
Director Barry Jenkins simply wrote: “This can’t be true.”
This can’t be true
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) September 6, 2021
Tray Chaney, who played Poot in “The Wire” alongside Williams, said the news is crushing. “I can’t… I’m crushed. No words. I love you bro,” Chaney wrote. “RIP to the legend Michael K Williams aka one of the dopest Actors/Brother in the world. #Omar #TheWIRE FOR LIFE. I’m off the grid for a while hard to process this one. I love you bro smh damn.”
I can’t…I’m crushed. 💔 no words. I love you bro. RIP to the legend Michael K Williams aka one of the dopest Actors/Brother in the world. #Omar #TheWIRE FOR LIFE. I’m off the grid for a while hard to process this one. I love you bro smh damn 🤦🏿♂️ 😥😥😥 pic.twitter.com/UNK3F94opM
— Tray Chaney (@traychaney) September 6, 2021
John Cusack called Williams’ acting on “The Wire” “among the greatest performances tv and film has ever seen.”
Among the greatest performances tv and film has ever seen – https://t.co/sOzbvsLVNC
— John Cusack (@johncusack) September 6, 2021
Actor and comedian David Alan Grier wrote: “Damn! Such a loss! This man was an amazing actor and a beautiful artist gone too soon.”
Damn! Such a loss! This man was an amazing actor and a beautiful artist gone too soon…🙏🏾 Michael K. Williams Dead: 'The Wire' Star Was 54 – Variety https://t.co/ctvgMnCBgf
— David Alan Grier (@davidalangrier) September 6, 2021
Aisha Tyler, director, actor and writer, said she was lucky to know the late star. “Michael K. Williams was a beautiful, passionate, expansive soul. I felt so lucky to have known him, and we were all so fortunate to have enjoyed his incredible talent,” Tyler wrote. “He burned so very bright. Rest in power, MKW. You will forever be The King.”
Michael K Williams was a beautiful, passionate, expansive soul. I felt so lucky to have known him, and we were all so fortunate to have enjoyed his incredible talent. He burned so very bright.
Rest in power, MKW.
You will forever be The King. pic.twitter.com/LuFY0tG9NA
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) September 6, 2021
April Reign, creator of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, said Williams was special. “There was something special about him. A quiet intensity. He was SO good in every single role. He studied his craft. He also expanded the view of what a same gender loving man looked like in the roles he played. Michael K. Williams will be deeply missed.”
There was something special about him. A quiet intensity. He was SO good in every single role. He studied his craft. He also expanded the view of what a same gender loving man looked like in the roles he played. Michael K Williams will be deeply missed. pic.twitter.com/BT9EwLjhP3
— April (@ReignOfApril) September 6, 2021
See more tributes below.
I just saw some extremely sad, heartbreaking news. My friend and supremely talented actor Michael K. Williams has died. We met on a film in 2008 and became casual pals. I was excited to meet him having greatly admired his incredible, insightful work in ‘The Wire’. pic.twitter.com/LD0icMcbei
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) September 6, 2021
Rest In Peace to Michael K. Williams. 🕊
I grew up watching your work and was truly inspired and I told myself one day I would have the opportunity to work with you & put you into one of my movies. Your soul and talents will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/MKEMEaDCIn
— Pryce Jones (@OfficialPryce) September 6, 2021
This is utterly devastating. Sweet Michael. You were one of the greatest actors ever. Rest In Peace. 'The Wire' actor Michael K. Williams found dead in NYC apartment https://t.co/zTBtSvyveH via @nypmetro
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 6, 2021
We lost a great talent. What he brought was his and only his. Rest In Peace Michael K Williams. https://t.co/hHse1LrSUi
— Ellen Barkin (@EllenBarkin) September 6, 2021
I used to be on staff at one of the many organizations Michael K Williams supported, and he was the one celebrity you could always count to show up. He shared his time, talent, and spirit with those kids, and the impact of that cannot be overstated. https://t.co/pC9noX8FwA
— Sage Young (@sageyoungest) September 6, 2021
Michael K. Williams was a god damn genius, a black queer icon who challenged the ideas of black masculinity at a time when it wasn't easy and a truly great dude. A huge loss.
— Travon Free (@Travon) September 6, 2021
— Adina Porter (@AdinaPorter) September 6, 2021
I feel punched in gut to learn we’ve lost Michael K Williams. Soul anguished. Getting to work with him was one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my career. My admiration for his talent was boundless, like so many. If he was in a scene he was the best thing about it. Period.
— Edward Norton (@EdwardNorton) September 6, 2021
Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams. One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul.
May you RIP. God bless.
— Isiah Whitlock Jr. (@IsiahWhitlockJr) September 6, 2021