Williams, who died on Sept. 6 at the age of 54, was nominated at this year’s Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his performance on HBO’s Lovecraft Country. Before presenting the award, Kerry Washington emotionally paid tribute to the actor, at one point during her remarks being taken aback by the idea of describing him in the past tense.
“Michael was a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being, who has left us far too soon,” Washington said. “Michael, I know you’re here because you wouldn’t miss this. Your excellence, your artistry, will endure. We love you.”
Though Williams had been considered the frontrunner to posthumously win this Emmy, which would have been the first of his career, the award ultimately went to Tobias Menzies for his role as Prince Philip on The Crown.
Williams was best known for his portrayal of Omar Little on the classic HBO show The Wire, as well as Chalky White on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He also had memorable roles in shows including When They See Us and The Night Of. The actor was found dead in his New York apartment earlier this month, and police were investigating his death as a possible drug overdose.
At the Emmys, Williams was previously nominated for his roles in When They See Us, The Night Of, and Bessie. His iconic role of Omar, though, surprisingly never earned him a nomination.
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