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Every Year Before The Wire, Williams Posed the Same Question

'What are we going to say this year,' actor who played Omar would ask David Simon
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2021 6:47 AM CDT
David Simon Recalls Annual Question From 'Omar'
Actor Michael K. Williams poses for a portrait at the Beverly Hilton during the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) – David Simon, creator of The Wire, weighs in on the death of his friend Michael K. Williams in a New York Times essay, one that recounts a question the actor would ask at the start of each season. "What are we going to say this year?" Williams played Omar, the robber of drug dealers, and he first posed the question to the show's writers at the start of the second season. As Simon notes, the show took a lot of flak that year for shifting its focus from the streets of West Baltimore to the city's waterfront—most of the action would now center on white characters instead of Black ones. When Williams saw the scripts, he went to the writers and expressed his disappointment. Simon initially thought he was being a prima donna actor worried about a diminished number of lines, but Williams set him straight.

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“I’m not here about my screen time," he said. "I just want to know why we are doing this. Why is the show changing?” He wanted to know why a show that was one of the rare ones on TV to focus on Black characters was "walking away from that." Simon's answer—that he didn't envision his show as being a Black drama but one about power and money in an American city—satisfied Williams. But every year after that, Williams would go into the writers' offices before shooting began and pose the question anew: "What are we going to say this year?" Simon acknowledges he initially underestimated Williams. In the essay, he honors the "utterly committed professional who never gave a camera the wrong moment, but who somehow never took enough comfort from that great skill, who was always, I came to understand, looking for it to mean more." Read it here. (Read more David Simon stories.)

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