It could be intimidating meeting the guy who’s not only “Chalky” of “Boardwalk Empire” fame but also President Barack Obama’s favorite character on “The Wire,” Omar Little. But in all honesty, Michael K. Williams is one of the most humble and charming people we’ve encountered from the Hollywood-sphere. In a moment, the man can go from being a menacing gangster or thug to a simple man who, with a smile, can turn your cold heart warm. Maybe it’s that alchemic ability that makes Williams’ one of the finest actors in America.
We had an opportunity to talk to him about his film The Gambler, which just released on Blu-ray / DVD on April 28, 2015. The following are excerpts from our chat with Williams:
Art Shrian: How did you approach the character and how much of yourself did you bring into the character?
Michael Williams: Neville (Williams’ character) is a businessman who just wants to live and enjoy life, who’s really intrigued by Jim’s (Wahlberg’s character) brutal honesty. He understood that Jim wanted to break free. Neville has everything in life, just like Jim, but he wants to live on an avocado farm, because he also wants to break free. The grass is always greener on the other side, that’s why he says, “A man can always change.” Neville has seen lots of hard times, he pulled himself out of it. He lives in a fake world where people cannot be trusted easily. I relate to that a lot!
Art Shrian: Talk to us about your charity and humanitarian work.
Michael Williams: I remember as a kid the free community centers to go to, which were safe havens for youngster and kids. I’m going to bring those back.
Art Shrian: What message do you want to share with New York about the current situation in country, with the recent incidents in Ferguson and New York?
Michael Williams: I think the first step is unity. It’s sad that it took this situation to create this unity, but now you see Black, white, Asian, Indians and every nationality out in the streets marching and showing their support. There has to be a dialogue and communication. People need to know that it’s OK to speak up and speak out. We have been made to feel that our voice doesn’t matter for so long. There has to be respect and humanity has to be restored.