Wendell Pierce Shared A Moving Tribute To His ‘The Wire’ Co-Star, Michael K. Williams

Late Monday afternoon, news broke that actor Michael K. Williams had been found dead in his New York City apartment. Friends, colleagues, and fans of the actor, who was 54 years old, immediately took to Twitter to express their sincere grief over the loss of one of Hollywood’s most singular talents. And a man who, by all accounts, was as authentic as the characters he portrayed over the past 25 years—most notably as Omar Little, the Robin Hood-esque stick-up man on The Wire.

On Monday evening, many of Williams’ former The Wire colleagues shared their thoughts and memories of the actor on Twitter. Among them was Wendell Pierce, who played the just-as-beloved homicide detective William “Bunk” Moreland, who went to the same high school as Omar, and who shared one of the series’ most poignant onscreen moments with Williams.

Pierce wrote a truly moving tribute to his former co-star, who he called “the kindest of persons,” and shared his grief about the loss of such a unique talent and human being, writing:

The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss. A[n] 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.

If you don’t know, you better ask somebody. His name was Michael K. Williams. He shared with me his secret fears then stepped out into his acting with true courage, acting in the face of fear, not in the absence of it. It took me years to learn what Michael had in abundance. He was proud of the artist he had become, asking for my advice long after he had surpassed any incite I could have shared. Always truthful, never inauthentic. The kindest of persons. Like two mischievous kids, we would laugh & joke whenever we would meet…

The Wire brought us together and immortalized Omar & Bunk in that “scene” on a park bench. But for us we aimed to take that moment in time together and say something about Black men. Our struggle with ourselves, internally, and each other. For me & Mike we had nothing but respect. So to you, my brother Mike, there is a small comfort that I know, you knew how much we loved you.

Pierce then went on to share a quote from Arthur Miller, which painted a wonderful picture of the respect and love the actor had for Williams, both as a performer and a friend.

There is a certain immortality involved in theater, not created by monuments and books, but through the knowledge an actor keeps to his dying day that on a certain afternoon, in an empty and dusty theater, he cast the shadow of a being that was not himself… but the distillation of all that he had ever observed; all the unsingable heart song the ordinary man may feel but never utter, he gave voice to. And by that somehow joins the ages.

Mike…….you joined the ages.

Farewell my friend,
Love Wendell

While Williams’ most recent roles have included parts in HBO’s Lovecraft Country and Netflix’s When They See Us, Omar Little will remain his legacy. Regularly (and rightfully) cited as one of the greatest characters in television history, it’s hard to imagine there are many, if any, other actors who could turn a shotgun-toting thief into a series’ unexpected moral compass. But as Omar often reminded us, “a man has got to have a code.” And with that, he forever changed the face of TV tough guys.