Actor Michael Kenneth Williams Passes at 54

It’s a sad day to report the loss of such an incredible talent as Michael K. Williams, who died on September 6th. Deadline confirmed his passing with a statement from a rep, “It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams.” The rep also requested privacy for the family at this time and did not give a cause of death.

The actor, who was 54, had a incredible range of credits stretching back to the 90s, and what struck me was how much he had done that I hadn’t even seen. I’ve seen his work in films like Gone Baby Gone, 12 Years a Slave, The Purge: Anarchy, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, and more, but my most frequently viewed work came from the cult television series Community, where he played Professor Marshall Kane, the Biology professor at Greendale Community College. While getting notes together to talk about Williams, I watched those episodes again, and I was shocked to find that he only appeared in 3 episodes of the 110-episode series. Maybe that was the biggest impact of the actor. Whether he had a few minutes or a few years to play with a character, he always left an impression.

His impression could be felt all around the business over the last few days, with everyone from Ava DuVerney to Spike Lee to Leslie Jones all taking a moment to talk about the impact he had on them. If you have a chance, seek out Wendell Pierce’s words on his relationship with Williams.

Williams will perhaps best be remembered for his work in television, including The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and most recently, the now-cancelled Lovecraft Country, for which he is nominated for an Emmy. Below is a selected filmography of his work. Rest in Peace.

Selected Filmography:

  • Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
  • I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
  • Gone Baby Gone (2007)
  • The Wire (2002-2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
  • Brooklyn’s Finest (2008)
  • The Road (2009)
  • 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  • RoboCop (2014)
  • The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
  • Kill the Messenger (2014)
  • Inherent Vice (2014)
  • Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)
  • The Gambler (2014)
  • Triple 9 (2016)
  • Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)
  • The Night Of (2016)
  • When the Bough Breaks (2016)
  • Assassin’s Creed (2016)
  • The Public (2016)
  • Hap and Leonard (2016-2018)
  • SuperFly (2018)
  • When They See Us (2019)
  • The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)
  • Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
  • Lovecraft Country (2020)
  • F Is For Family (2017-2021)


-Kyle A. Goethe

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