Omar be interviewin', y'all!
After five seasons on the highly-acclaimed HBO series "The Wire" portraying something of a modern-day Robin Hood, actor Michael K. Williams is still often associated with the character. The 45-year-old Williams spoke with Vulture recently about the ups and downs of his career, being so closely identified with "The Wire" anti-hero, and how much of himself is in each character.
Even though "The Wire" is long dead, the series is as popular as ever with DVDs of the seasons making the rounds and word of mouth spreading. Williams doesn't mind being identified so closely with the highly touted series, but feels the character of Omar Little internally took him to very dark places. "I think I crossed a line with that character. I was pulling from a lot of personal experiences, a lot of pain... When the character died, I didn’t know how to let it go. When people screamed ‘Omar’ in the street, it sounded better to me than when they were screaming ‘Mike.’ I think what people need to realize is that I had to mourn that character just like everybody else."
Now, the actor has experienced a rejuventation in the ensemble HBO Prohibition-era series "Boardwalk Empire" where he plays Albert 'Chalky' White, leader of the Atlantic city's African-American community. Williams derives inspiration for the character from the male figures in his family, “Chalky dresses like my father. He got that snarl, and he struts like my godfather. He’ll kill you like my Uncle Par. He sarcastic like my Uncle Tommy. And he loves his family like my Uncle Jay.”
Creator of "Boardwalk Empire" Terence Winter jokes, "I think he has a switch on the back of his head that he can turn on and off. He’s such a nice, gentle guy. And then he can flick that switch, the eyes go dead, and it’s like, Oh fuck. That’s the guy.”
This theory may have some credence, and perhaps the switch goes the other way as well. Fans of "The Wire" may have seen a viral video making the rounds indicating a revival of the series... in musical form. The Funny Or Die video featured Williams reprising the Omar Little role, only this time singing and dancing in absurdly comical form.
Check out Chalky White in the third season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" on September 16.