Michael K. Williams’ Cause of Death Revealed as Fatal Overdose of Mixture of Drugs

Michael K. Williams
Michael Buckner/PMC

Michael K. Williams, the iconic actor who was found dead on Sept. 6 in his Brooklyn residence, died of an overdose of fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine. Variety confirmed the news with a spokesperson for New York City’s chief medical examiner’s office.

Williams, who brought quiet intensity to series such as “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire,” as well as films like “12 Years A Slave” and “Inherent Vice,” was found surrounded by narcotics.

Williams’ roles intertwined with his drug use through the years. In a 2012 profile in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, he told harrowing stories of the double life he was living as he rose to stardom on “The Wire,” doing drugs “in scary places with scary people.”

“I was playing with fire,” Williams said then. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead.”

In a 2017 interview with the New York Times, he revealed more, and said that he was using cocaine regularly while filming “The Night Of.”

“The characters that mean the most to me are the ones that damn near kill me,” he told the Times. “It’s a sacrifice I’ve chosen to make.”

Upon news of Williams’ death, his Hollywood peers flooded social media with tributes to the heartfelt actor. Variety editors reflected on both his commanding presence and, alternately, his lighter comedic fare.

Williams had been busy working at the end of his life, and before his death, he’d celebrated an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his work on “Lovecraft Country.” He also had several other films in various stages of development, as well as a second season of his Vice TV unscripted series “Black Market,” much of which was already completed.