First comes a whistled tune—“The Farmer in the Dell,” delivered with extra menace. Then the sight of him—Omar Little, played by Michael K. Williams, stalking the streets of Baltimore in a billowing duster concealing a shotgun. Omar was the most indelible character on The Wire, one of TV’s greatest dramas, and the show was most viewers’ introduction to Williams, a captivating screen presence who was found dead yesterday in Brooklyn at the age of 54.
What distinguished all of Williams’s work was the deep integrity he lent any role, big or small. He played criminals, activists, professors; his characters were gay and straight, villainous and lovable. But all of them felt rooted in reality, no matter how lurid the material.