“The depth of my love for this brother can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” Pierce, who played Detective William “Bunk” Moreland on the HBO series, wrote on Twitter. “An 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.”
Pierce also shared a clip from season three of The Wire in which his character admonishes Williams’ Omar — a stick-up man who robs drug dealers — for showing no remorse after a local girl is killed. “The Wire brought us together and immortalized Omar and 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 and Mike we had nothing but respect.”
Tributes from Williams’ other The Wire co-stars and crew have been pouring in as well, including creator David Simon, who wrote: “Too gutted right now to say all that ought to be said. Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he always deserved the best words. And today those words won’t come.”
Isiah Whitlock Jr., who played Maryland State Senator Clay Davis tweeted: “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.” Tray Chaney, who acted as drug dealer Poot Carr, wrote: “I can’t…I’m crushed. RIP to the legend Michael K Williams aka one of the dopest Actors/Brother in the world.”
Clarke Peters, who played Detective Lester Freamon, shared a more fraught remembrance: “I’m conflicted over Michael K. Williams’ death,” he tweeted. “Pissed off that he let us down; angry because he could have reached out and didn’t, instead led us to believe he was alright. Sorry that another Brother’s life has been wasted. We can do better than this. Talk to a brother!”
A cause of death was not given when Williams’ rep, Marianna Shafran, confirmed the actor’s death to Rolling Stone. Police sources added that Williams was found dead in his home in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn at approximately 2 p.m. Monday. Williams was open about his battles with substance abuse and had spoken about relapsing multiple times throughout his life; authorities have not stated that his death was drug-related, though.
Williams also notably starred as gangster Chalky White in the HBO hit Boardwalk Empire and Montrose Freeman, the father to Jonathan Majors’ Atticus Freeman, in the acclaimed horror series Lovecraft County. He earned an Emmy nomination for that role, in addition to three other nods, including his portrayal of Bessie Smith’s husband in the 2015 TV movie Bessie.
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