Wire Star Got Clean Through Christ

By McCarton Ackerman 08/27/12

Michael K. Williams, who played the thug Omar Little, kept his addiction hidden—until he went to church.

The Wire: Art imitating life Photo via

The Wire and Boardwalk Empire actor Michael K. Williams managed to keep his double life in Newark, New Jersey out of the tabloids for several years. Best known for his role on The Wire as Omar Little—the scar-faced, shotgun-toting, homosexual thug who made his living stealing from cutthroat Baltimore drug dealers—Williams admits to doing cocaine and pot starting in 2004 in "scary places with scary people," including drug dealers and real-life felons. His addiction got to the point where he was even begging dealers for lines. “I was playing with fire,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead. When I look back on it now, I don’t know how I didn’t end up in a body bag." A high-functioning addict, Williams never blew an acting call and never missed a day of work due to his habit, but said his addiction led to an isolation that became too much to bear. "I had to slip away to do drugs," he says. "I had to hide it. I’d be gone for days at a time. I was lonely in that part of my life. I was broke, broken and beat up. Exhausted. Empty. I finally said, ‘I can’t do this no more.’ I didn’t want to end up dead.”

He eventually saw the light when a friend dragged him Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington and Williams met with the Reverend there. He eventually gained enough strength from the church to kick his addiction, and credits the Reverend with saving his life. "After that first time, I would come back here high," said Williams. "I didn’t kick it right away. He knew that. I would never disrupt the services. But you could look at my eyes and tell. He never let me leave without giving me money. He probably gave me two grand altogether. He made sure I could eat. He always asked, ‘Are you okay?’ He loved me until I could love myself.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.