Exclusive - Michael K. Williams Extended Interview

December 14, 2016 - Michael K. Williams 12/14/2016 Views: 21,448

Michael K. Williams reminisces about his time as Omar Little on the TV series "The Wire" and talks about his role in the film adaption of the video game "Assassin's Creed." (6:46)

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-(laughter) -Please welcomeMichael K. Williams.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)


Welcome, sir.Welcome to the show.

Thank you, brother.Thank you so much.

I am such a huge fan of yours,

and, I mean, I'm,like, I feel bad...

not being a fan but, like...do you know how hard it is

not to say "Omar's coming"?

-Ah... okay, say it.-Like, do you get sick of that?

Never. Why wouldI get sick of that, man?

That's-that's, you know,Omar, man.

-We're gonna always love Omar.-Yeah.

-Yeah! Yeah. -I mean...-(cheering)

And he's more than just,you know, the character.

You know, when I...when people say that name,

it gives me a chance to thinkof all the beautiful times I had

in that city--I love the city of Baltimore.

-Yeah. -The foodand then my coworkers,

shout-out to the castof The Wire,

one of the best, um, casts everon television, and David Simon,

So any chance to havethose beautiful memories.

-I'll take 'em, man. -Yeah,I mean, we have those memories.

What's crazy is, everythingthat happened in The Wire

is still somethingthat you can talk about today.

Unfortunately, you know? Andthat's-that's something else,

you know, every... everythingthat plagued those people

in that community--those characters--

it's still-still a problemin our community, so, you know,

um, unfortunately, The Wire is still very much relevant.

Yeah. You are... you are anactor who's very much relevant.

I mean, I don't knowhow you choose your roles,

but they're always amazing.You always are acting in a show

or a... or a movie that is-thatis phenomenally written.

You've said you're a suckerfor good writing.

-There you go, that's the trick.-But, I mean...

Yeah, but I mean,like-like, Boardwalk Empire,

you know, The Night Of. You-you are-you are somebody

who is in everysingle strong role

and yet the one rolethat you say affected you

was Omar from The Wire. Why?

You know, uh, uh...Well, first of all, thank you.

You know? And-and...

I always believe that you'reonly as strong as the people

around you, so thank youfor that compliment,

because I've been aroundsome of the most amazing talent

in my career. That's whatmakes you strong. My cousin

always says "iron sharpensiron," so shout out to that.

That's my cousin Footy.But, um, you know, uh...

Um, what was the second partof the que... uh, the que...

You see what you did, Footy?

-You got me... you got my...-Yeah, Footy!

-You screwed upmy question, Footy. -Damn.

Um, no, no, but here'swhat I found interesting--

you've playedall of these characters,

and the one thing I-I'veheard you say is that Omar

was the one characterthat almost-almost played you.

Like, he changed a bit of whoyou are, as Michael K. Williams.

What does that-what doesthat mean?

You know, well, when I gotto that-that part of my...

that level in my career,I was green. I'd never had a...

been given the opportunityto play a character with

that much depth. And, you know,you-you mix that with the kid,

you know, from the 'hood,with, uh, uh, low self-esteem

and a huge need to be accepted.I had some-I had some demons,

some issues that were unresolvedin my personal life,

and-and Omar could have been

a-a vehicle, a tool to heal.

But it didn't work...

It went the otherdirection for me,

and I kind of gotthe lines blurred.

You know, you got a kid who's...was deemed corny growing up,

and then, all of a sudden,I'm-I'm the cool guy, you know?

But only small problem isnow my name is Omar.

So, you know, I was like,"Okay, I... don't give a hell

"about Michael. We can...No-no one will notice that I...

"No one calls me Michael.I'm just gonna answer to Omar.

It'll be great." You know,I mean, that didn't work.

-That failed miserably. -You-youhave lived quite a life though.

Because, I mean, people see younow. You play strong roles,

you playa lot of dangerous roles.

But is it truethat you were a backup dancer

-for Ma... for Madonna?-Yeah, man. No, no, no, no, no.

I actually just...Well-well, Madonna, I just...

I was... I-I was in her video.In the "Secret" video.

-Okay, okay, yes. -I danced...Uh, most of my-my dance, uh,

credits were in the house musicworld, like Crystal Waters,

Technotronic, CeCe Peniston,you know what I mean?

-I still got some dance in me.Ah... -Oh, let's see.

-(cheering and applause)-(whooping)

Now, you should... You know...you know who can really dance

is that damn Michael Fassbender.

-That guy can cut a...-Are you serious?

-that can guy can cut a rug.-I feel like he can do anything.

-He can cut a rug. He can doanything. -He can speak

any language,he can act in any-any world,

he can dance as well. He is...he's a man of many talents.

Let's talk about the movie Assassin's Creed.

I'm a huge fan of the franchise,because of the video game.

-Yes. -Whenever they makea video game, uh, into a movie,

it can be disappointing.But this has not failed at all.

It is a fantastic story.Uh, what would you say

is the biggest themethat is played in the movie?

Like, for people who don't knowwhat Assassin's Creed is about,

-what makes this movieso special? -Well, for me, uh,

uh, I-I had never heardabout the game,

and I-I definitely didn't knowanything about the world.

What made it so important to me,so special to me,

which I think peoplewho don't even know the game

-will resonate,it's a timely story. -Yeah.

It's about good versus evil.

You know, you have theseTemplars, who... which exist--

and their-their goalis to control the masses

and take away free will.

And the Assassins are sayin',"No, you're not."

-But they're using, um, via...(laughs) -(laughter)

No, you're not. But they'reusing violence to do that.

And the Templars are saying,we want to do this

because we feelif we take away free will...

-Yes.-...we will stop violence.

And-and... but you...you're willing to use violence

to-to stop violence?

And thenthe Assassins are saying,

well, we want to createfree will and peace,

but, you know, we're willingto kill you to do that.

So it's, like, well,

-are there any really goodpeople, you know? -But that...

-That is... -There's good andbad in everybody, basically.

Exactly. That is the biggestdichotomy it feels like

because you've got one group whofeels like they're doing this,

they're controlling everyonefor the good of humanity.

You've got another group who aregoing around killing people,

and they're saying,for the good of humanity.

Are there any good peoplein Assassin's Creed?

-Yeah. You know, and they'rethe Assassins. -(laughter)

You know,at the end of the day...

That's a messed-up world

when the Assassinsare the good people. Like...

Yes. You know,at the end of the day, you know,

free will, I believe isthe greatest gift to mankind.

And... and it... you know,

we have to protect thatat all costs.

You know, and then, the moviealso speaks to, like,

this ancestral energy, you know,

and I'm also a big believerin, you know...

We are... we are all the sumof the people,

the men and womenthat walked before us

-that share our bloodline.-Right.

And, uh....


And the movie speaks about that,and I think

for young people, our kids,

I think, our kids-- it'sa great time to tell a story

about feeling proudof who you are,

where you come fromand knowing your ancestry

and feeling proudof that bloodline,

and then using that,you know, that super power,

if you will, to do something,you know,

positive in this present world.

I think it's a great messageright now for the kids.

It's a great message, and I'mglad you're delivering it, man.

Thank you so much for everythingyou're doing.

-(applause and cheering)-Thank you. Thank you.

Assassin's Creed is in theatersWednesday, December 21.

-Michael K. Williams, everybody.