Michael K. Williams is the man of the moment. Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama heralded Williams' character "Omar"—the black gay homothug and stickup artist with the heart of gold on HBO's gritty drama The Wire—as his favorite character on television. This week. Williams is interviewed on NPR and says Omar's shotgun is not the most fearless aspect of his character. It's being openly gay.
"The most fearless thing I had to play as Omar was his openness about his sexuality," Williams tells Terry Gross in the interview on Fresh Air. (Audio) "I wanted that to be serious, I wanted him to be believable, and, I didn't wan to disrespect anyone in the gay community."
The actor also says he had no hesitation about playing the character and embraced the role. "I looked at this as an opportunity to stand out," Williams says. "I saw there were some stellar kick ass actors on the series, I wanted to fit in."
Williams says that prove his mettle, he surprised his co-star and improvised that first kiss with "Brandon" on Season One. "I told him we should put the kiss in there and he said, 'Don't tell me when you're going to do it, just surprise me.' So we did it. Then, after we finished and loaded the bullets in the shogun, 'click-click', it was like the ultimate contrast to me."
Michael K. Williams interview with Terry Gross is beautiful. It's rare to hear actors—especially from the black community, and, the inner cities—present so much honesty and respect to their LGBT characters and the community. It's also rare to hear an actor discuss the psychology and sexuality of a character and never once cite their own heterosexuality as a buffer. Bravo.
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