He was the terrifying stick-up man who loved his gran, shopped in his pyjamas and tenderly kissed his boyfriend. We remember Omar’s great scenes – and pay tribute to Michael K Williams, the actor who brought him to life
Playing stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire, Michael K Williams was tough, frightening and brutal – his face scarred, his smile wide, toting a shotgun and wearing a long trenchcoat. So viewers of David Simon’s intricate TV portrait of Baltimore’s streets, docks, schools and politics felt the rug pulled from under them when they first saw him kiss his boyfriend in episode four of season one.
It was a moment that subverted audience expectations and signalled the complexity, ambition and depth that The Wire – which is often placed at or near the top of lists of the all-time greatest TV shows – was aiming to achieve. This is not a character you’ve seen before, the show seemed to be saying. These aren’t your usual stereotypes and cliches. A similar moment saw Idris Elba’s drug chief Stringer Bell attend a business studies class.