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The Wire actor Michael K Williams has been found dead aged 54 at his home in Brooklyn, police sources have told the PA news agency.
Williams, best known for playing the charismatic Omar Little on HBO's acclaimed crime drama, was found at about 2pm local time on Monday.
His family confirmed the tragic news via his publicist with a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss,” his long-time rep Marianna Shafran said.
According to reports, the NYPD said there was an “ongoing investigation” into his death and that the New York City medical examiner would determine the cause of death at a later time.
The New York Post reported Williams died of a suspected drug overdose.
He had been open about his battle with drug addiction, telling NPR in 2016, that he once visited a church to try get help.
“When I came through those doors, I was broken. … This was, I would say, around the … third season of ‘The Wire,’” he said.
“I was on drugs. I was in jeopardy of destroying everything I had worked so hard for, and I came in those doors, and I met a man who had never even heard of The Wire, much less watched it,” he said, referring to the pastor.
“I wrote my full name down — Michael Kenneth Williams — and in the office, [the pastor] turns around, and he says, ‘So what do you want to be called, man?’ I said, ‘Well, you know, my name is Michael, but I could do Mike.’ He says, ‘Why does everybody say, ‘Omar, Omar’s in trouble?’ ” And I was like, ‘Oh, this dude is clueless [about the show]'."
As well as The Wire, Williams, who had a distinctive facial scar from a bar fight on his 25th birthday, had roles in gangster series Boardwalk Empire and TV film Bessie.
He was a four-time Emmy nominee for Bessie, The Night Of, When They See Us and Lovecraft Country.
Last week, it was announced Williams had joined the cast of Sony's untitled biopic of famed world heavyweight champion George Foremen.
He was set to play Doc Broadus, who was Foreman's trainer and mentor.
His other film roles included The Road, Inherent Vice and 12 Years A Slave.
However Williams will be best remembered for Omar, the gay, morally ambiguous criminal who frequently targets drug dealers.
The character was known for the distinctive duster jacket he wore to conceal weapons while wandering the streets of Baltimore.
Isiah Whitlock Jr starred alongside Williams in The Wire and paid tribute on Twitter.
He said: "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. May you RIP. God bless."
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