Michael K. Williams' Distinctive Facial Scar Helped Him Become an Iconic Actor


Sep. 7 2021, Published 9:55 a.m. ET

Michael K. Williams
Source: Getty Images

Fans are still in mourning following news that Michael K. Williams, the actor best known for his portrayal of Omar Little on The Wire, had died at the age of 54. The news has led many to renew their appreciation for the actor's immense skill, and it's also led some to try to learn more about who Michael was before he died. For some, that's meant digging into exactly how he came to have a massive scar along his face.

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What happened to Michael K. Williams' face?

During an interview with NPR from 2014, Michael explained that he had gotten the scar during a fight that took place on his 25th birthday. The party was taking place at a bar in Queens, and Michael explained that he had stepped outside to get some air during the festivities.

"I saw that two of my other friends were being surrounded by some dudes who I didn’t know. And it looked like they were about to get jumped," he said.

michael k williams face
Source: Getty Images
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"And I said, ‘Yo, I’m ready to leave. Let’s go back. I’m going to go back home now,'" the Boardwalk Empire actor continued. He explained that one of the men continued to pace behind him.

"He kept like, you know, like sucking his teeth, and I’m looking — I’m like, ‘Yo — so what’s up dude? Yo bro, what’s your problem?'" the actor explained.

"And the dude wiped his hand across his mouth and just — what I thought appeared to be — smacked me, but what he did was he spit a razor," Michael continued. "He was positioning the razor in his mouth to get between his middle finger and his ring finger, and then he just went — swiped me down my face, and this cut my face. It was actually the first hit of the fight. So we managed to escape with our lives, barely, that night."

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The fight left an iconic scar along Michael's face.

Although Michael survived the fight, the razor blade that his opponent had used left him with a pretty distinctive scar. The scar ran down the center of his forehead, crossed the bridge of his nose, and ultimately ended on his right cheek near his mouth.

Ultimately, the scar changed the kinds of roles that he was being considered for.

Source: YouTube
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Prior to the injury, Michael was primarily a dancer and was featured in music videos from several prominent artists. After he got the scar, though, Michael said that directors started to consider him for "thug" roles.

"They wanted me to act out these thug roles, you know, like — ‘Mike, roll these — roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video.’ I was like, ‘All right,'" he said.

That change ultimately led to his casting as Omar, which transformed his life and made him an icon. Omar was just the beginning of Michael's iconic, work, though, and he went on to appear in a number of other HBO series. His scar may have been a distinctive part of his look, but what set Michael apart was his ability to bring humanity to every character he played.

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