AMERICAN actor Michael K Williams, best known for starring in HBO drama series The Wire, has been found dead aged 54.
US media quote law enforcement sources as saying he died from a suspected drug overdose.
Williams – who was nominated for three Emmy Awards – had openly discussed his struggles with drugs over the years.
New York Police Department spokesman John Grimpel said police went to Williams’s Brooklyn apartment after receiving an emergency call on Monday.
Fellow actors and filmmakers have been paying tribute on social media.
“The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” The Wire co-star Wendell Pierce tweeted.
“A immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth,” Pierce added.
“If he was in a scene he was the best thing about it. Period,” wrote actor Edward Norton, who worked with Williams on the 2019 film Motherless Brooklyn.
“This is heartbreaking to learn. We have lost an enormous talent in Michael K Williams,” tweeted Star Trek actor George Takei.
Filmmaker James Gunn described Williams as one of the “most gentle souls I’ve ever met”.
“Rest in Peace Michael K Williams. Gone far too soon. A man that taught me so much. Thank you for your wisdom,” wrote British actor Damson Idris.
In a statement, HBO TV network, which aired 60 episodes of The Wire between 2002 and 2008, said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years.
“While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.”
Born in New York in 1966, Williams began his career as a dancer and performed with Madonna and George Michael before moving into acting, with companies including the prestigious National Black Theatre Company.