Call it karma, coincidence or a casting coup, but as Omar, The Wire's stickup artist extraordinaire, Michael Kenneth Williams steals every scene he's in. We got our first glimpse this year of the gay, gun-toting gangster in his island exile last week, but tonight (9 pm/ET, HBO) he's back in Baltimore — and looking for revenge.
TV Guide: Omar may be the most interesting TV villain since Deadwood's Al Swearengen.
Michael Kenneth Williams:
I still don't fully understand him. I think I can identify withmaybe five percent of Omar, and the rest I did a whole lot of praying, "I hopethey like it!" [Laughs] I was a little concerned with the backlash, because ofhis sexual [orientation], and the fact that he's not driving fancy cars andusing fancy drugs. But Omar has resonated in a way that I never imagined.
TV Guide: What about that distinctive scar? Is it real?
Yes, it is. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I survived the '80s. [Laughs] But it was a barroom brawl on my 25th birthday. I just wish I had something more exciting to tell about it.
TV Guide: Series producer Ed Burns, a former Baltimore homicide detective, has said that you didn't know how to handle a shotgun at the beginning.
I'dnever even fired a gun prior to playing Omar.I went back to my 'hood and had to ask somereal gangsters, "How'd you do that?" If you mixwhat I took from the street with the mentoringof someone like Ed Burns, you can't lose.
TV Guide: Burns also said you were the one who brought Snoop (Felicia Pearson) to the show.
We met at a bar in Baltimore. She had justcome home from prison, and her family hadtold her so much about The Wire. She wasn'ttrying to get on the show, but I couldn't stopstaring at her. I begged her to call me, she tookmy word, and she ain't turned back ever since.
TV Guide: Is there any frustration with the lack of awards or publicity the show has received?
It's bigger thanaccolades at this point. I hope some kid in the 'hood willsee The Wire and take a different turn. It isn't a white orblack story. It isn't a Baltimore story. It's an American story.It's a social problem that's been going on in our country —though the country may not realize it.
Check out more of The Wire in our Online Video Guide.
Get all five of our collectible Lost covers, then go behind the scenes on the set for our exclusive preview of the new season. Plus: Take a sneak peek at this year's hot new Super Bowl ads. Try four risk-free issues of TV Guide now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.