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Michael K Williams: The Wire and Boardwalk Empire actor died of accidental drug overdose, post-mortem examination finds

Written by on 25 September 2021

The Wire actor Michael K Williams died of an accidental drug overdose, a post-mortem examination has found.

Williams, 54, was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on 6 September.

Police sources said at the time that drug paraphernalia was discovered at the scene.

Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical examiner, said in an email the cause of death was “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine”.

Ms Bolcer declined to comment further on the investigation.

Dominic West and Michael K Williams in The Wire. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock Image: Michael K Williams with Dominic West in The Wire. Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock

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2016: Michael K Williams speaks about his anger

Williams’ colleagues remembered his special talent for humanising the characters he portrayed, bringing to his roles his own experience as a black man growing up in New York.

Among the real-life struggles drawn upon by him were bouts with drug addiction, which he brought to his best-known role for The Wire.

The TV series was set in Baltimore and told the story of the narcotics trade from the perspective of criminals, police and the people caught between them.

Critics praised Williams for his portrayal of Omar Little, a homosexual drug dealer at war with his rivals.

Michael K Williams in his role as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. Pic: HBO/Kobal/Shutterstock Image: Williams in his role as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. Pic: HBO/Kobal/Shutterstock

Other television roles that won Williams praise included characters he portrayed in Boardwalk Empire, Bessie and Lovecraft Country.

Williams played the powerful African-American gangster Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, an HBO series set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.

During his career, Williams earned Emmy nominations for performances in HBO’s Bessie, The Night Of and Lovecraft Country.

He also won praise for his role in the 2019 Netflix series When They See Us, the true story of five teenagers falsely accused of a brutal attack on a female jogger in New York’s Central Park, who were eventually cleared after spending years in prison.

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