Michael K. Williams Explains How He Got His Scar And Role On The Wire In Incredible Interview

by : Cameron Frew on : 07 Sep 2021 08:33
Michael K. Williams Explains How He Got His Scar And Role On The Wire In Incredible InterviewOra TV/PA Images

A Michael K. Williams interview has resurfaced in which he discusses the origins of his scar and how he got his iconic role on The Wire.

The 54-year-old actor was found dead in his home in New York City yesterday, September 6. News of his passing saw an immediate outpour of tributes and devastated messages from his HBO co-stars, other celebrities and his many fans, marking the tragic loss of a magnetic talent.


Of all his roles, Williams will be remembered most for Omar Little, his revolutionary Baltimore robber on The Wire. Barack Obama even said he was his favourite character, explaining, ‘That’s not an endorsement. He’s not my favourite person, but he’s a fascinating character.’

Michael K. Williams. (PA Images)PA Images

Back in 2014, the Brooklyn-born star spoke to NPR about how he ended up with his face scar, and how this led to his most acclaimed performance.

Prior to the show’s premiere in 2002, Williams said he was ‘doing a bunch of videos, you know, just dancing background’ – but it all changed on his 25th birthday, when his face was cut in a bar brawl.


‘There was a popping party going on in Queens. I went outside to get some air, and I saw that two of my other friends were being surrounded by some dudes who I didn’t know. And it looked like they were about to get jumped. And I said, yo, I’m ready to leave. Let’s go back. I’m going to go back home now,’ he explained.

Michael K. Williams in The Wire. (HBO)HBO

‘But this one dude kept pacing behind me. He kept walking behind me. He kept like, you know, like sucking his teeth, and I’m looking – I’m like yo – so what’s up dude? Yo bro, what’s your problem? And the dude wiped his hand across his mouth and just – what I thought appeared to be – smacked me, but what he did was he spit a razor.

‘He was positioning the razor in his mouth to get between his middle finger and his ring finger, and then he just went – swiped me down my face, and this cut my face. It was actually the first hit of the fight. So we managed to escape with our lives, barely, that night.’


For Williams, this was the catalyst for a big change in his career; while directors didn’t want him to dance in videos, they actually wanted him in ‘these thug roles, you know, like – Mike, roll these – roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video. I was like, all right’.

Michael K. Williams in The Wire. (HBO)HBO

At the time, Tupac Shakur was in New York filming a movie called Bullet. ‘The production office that they were working out of in New York happened to have a Polaroid picture of me from me going to audition from some various music videos. So he happened to see a Polaroid picture of me and was like, yo, this dude looks thugged out enough that he could play my little brother,’ Williams said.

‘I think he saw my pain and my struggle, my heart. I was just like – I was starstruck, you know. I was like, wow, that’s Tupac Shakur.’


After shooting that movie, he made appearances in Law and Order and The Sopranos. Things slowed down for a while, leaving Williams feeling uncertain and ‘really depressed’ over his career.

‘And then March [2000] came, and one day [my mother] called me and said, you got fax downstairs, here. I went downstairs to her office, and it was the breakdown for Omar from The Wire On HBO,’ Williams said.

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Film and TV


  1. NPR

    A Brawl At Bar Brought Michael K. Williams His Big Break