Michael Kenneth Williams (1966-2021) recently passed away and, while he was best known for his seminal role on HBO’s The Wire (2002-2008), he also played key roles in a few historical costume movies and TV shows. Most notably was his striking portrayal of a 1920s bootlegger and community leader in Boardwalk Empire. So let’s give him a little frock flick retrospective as we consider what might have been.
Jimmy in Lackawanna Blues (2005)
A small role in this TV movie set in 1960s New York.
Tucker in Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Playing a scared soldier during World War II in this Spike Lee film.
This performance earned Williams an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy nomination.
Montrose is the father of Atticus, the show’s main protagonist, but Montrose has his own significant plotlines as well.
Per IMDB: “Former Buffalo Soldier Mo Washington travels West to lay claim on a gold mine. After his stagecoach is ambushed, Mo is tasked with holding a dangerous outlaw captive and must survive the day when the bandit’s gang tries to free him.” Michael Kenneth Williams stars in this film, and it’s listed as having completed filming, so hopefully we’ll see him one last time onscreen.
What’s your favorite Michael Kenneth Williams role?
Thanks, Trystan! Not strictly a Frock Flick, but he was in Inherent Vice, which was set in 1970. Let’s just say that this movie is best enjoyed with a few cocktails. :)
He was really, really good in Boardwalk Empire. His character was illiterate, but it didn’t keep him from running a massive underground business. The portrayal was nuanced. Chalky is ruthless, probably more of a “bad” than “good” guy, but he also legitimately functions as a community leader.
We loved him in Boardwalk Empire. Gone way too soon.
Of his FrockFlicks, I’ve only seen Miracle at St. Anna. The movie is good, though the subject matter is so grim that you can’t really say that you “enjoyed” the movie. I had no idea he had such an extensive FrockFlick resume’. There’s much here that looks intriguing. Overall, my fave role of his was Leonard in Hap and Leonard, which took place in the 80s, after your cutoff date. He’s another talented actor who is gone too soon. Thanks for this post.
I’ve seen every episode of Lovecraft Country, but it’s only now that I notice that line down his forehead and cheek.
It’s a damn shame. He was honestly one of our best working character actors. But he did leave an impact while he was here.