Have you revisited the excellence that is HBO’s critically-lauded drama The Wire recently? Not that we need a reason to lose ourselves in the multi-faceted, gripping saga of an American city, but you might particularly enjoy the show’s new HD upgrade and the ability to now own on it Digital HD.
To commemorate the occasion, Playboy recently spoke to cast member Michael K. Williams (aka fan favorite Omar Little), about why the show continues to resonate with viewers [SPOILER ALERT], the most fan-quoted line and his take on Playboy’s Lucky 7.
What part of the show will look especially excellent in HD? Is there a particular scene or co-star that will look great in High Def?
Yes, Kima G’s [actress Sonja Sohn] sexiness.
Omar’s arc is so tragic in that he leaves us suddenly and unceremoniously; do you find that people complain about that death a lot when they talk to you about the show?
A lot of people have hard feelings about how Omar went out. They were pissed off that he was murdered by a child but at the end of the day, that’s real. That’s what happens when you grow up on the street — it was accurate.
How often does The Wire come up in conversation for you?
A lot [laughs]. I can see people telling themselves, “I’m not going to say anything. I’m not going to say anything” and they come over and say, “I told myself I wasn’t going to say anything. But I love Omar and The Wire.” So it comes up a lot, but it doesn’t bother me.
I would hope people only come up to you with positive feedback versus complaints.
The show is a very honest and ugly look at what’s wrong in our society, so I’m not opposed to those who don’t have positive things to say about it. That’s what’s special about it, that’s what we’re there for, to invoke conversation.
When people come up to you, what is the one phrase or quote you hear the most?
Oh, the most popular quote from Omar, they say: “You come at the king, you best not miss” and a strong follow up to that one is, “Omar comin’!”
You haven’t stopped working since The Wire ended. Do you find that casting directors and producers and the like want to talk The Wire or do they try to be professional and not fanboy or fangirl out about it?
Most casting directors, they keep it professional, they have to. Now writers are a different story. “The Wire, man!” Writers love to talk about it with me, and when a writer tells you they love your work I take that as a huge compliment.
Is there one reason you think that the show resonates and continues to resonate so deeply?
I think The Wire is still relevant because it speaks to what’s going on right now. The Wire still exists in America and I don’t say that with pride, there’s something wrong with that picture. Marvin Gaye had a song, “Mercy Mercy Me,” a beautiful song but it’s sad that that song is still relevant and that we’re still going through that. You look at all the hate acts happening in streets across the country and the war on drugs is still a problem in this country, one thing The Wire spoke about was the war on drugs. The line from Det. Carver [played by Seth Gilliam] “Girl, you can’t even call this shit a war. Wars end.” People still enjoy watching it because it still speaks to what’s wrong and a lot of problems haven’t been fixed.
What was your first encounter with Playboy?
Under my brother’s mattress, I knew he had a stash and I went under the mattress and that was the first time I saw a naked woman.
What movie scared you most as a kid?
I’m probably going to date myself with this one but people know my age anyway, my first horror movie was a movie called Fools Of The Gods. That movie freaked me out. To look at it now, the special effects are hilarious but it was about some type of feed they mass-produced to animals so they would grow quickly or whatever, so there were giant rats and roosters the size of buildings and they were eating people, it scared the crap out of me.
What’s your pop-culture blind spot?
Oh, I don’t do reality shows.
Let’s pretend you’re on death row: What’s your last meal?
My last meal would be anything that my mother cooked. Anything. I would hate for her to have to bury me but to answer the question, I would love a home-cooked meal from my mother.
What was your first car?
My first car was a Chevrolet Blazer.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
Do you still know all the words?
Oh yeah. If you played the record I could give you the whole song.
What’s your favorite mistake?
Oh wow. My career was a happy accident [laughs]. My whole career, I always say I walked into the back door walking backwards — it’s not what I set out to be.
For even more Wire goods, check out our chat with Wendell “Bunk” Pierce.