Michael K. Williams.
Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan
Before Michael K. Williams was Omar Little on The Wire or Chalky White on Boardwalk Empire, he was a guy named High Top in the 1996 movie Bullet, starring Tupac Shakur and Mickey Rourke. In fact, he told us at Vanity Fair’s party for the Tribeca Film Festival, he credits Tupac with discovering him. (We thought we were just going to get his thoughts on the hologram tour when we were treated to this excellent piece of trivia.) Herewith, a conversation full of many more little surprises, including Williams’s thoughts on Game of Thrones and 21 Jump Street.
Did you see the Hologram Tupac?
I did. I loved it. I loved seeing him, you know? It made me feel like he’s still with us. I liked it. I really did. People have been telling me about it on Twitter, but I just saw it.
Do you think Dr. Dre should take him on tour?
Yeah, why not? He’s Dr. Dre. He can do whatever he wants.
Would you go to a concert to see a hologram of Tupac?
Totally. Absolutely. Yes, I would.
Would you pay to see that concert?
Well, I would probably make a phone call. I don’t know if I’d pay money. [Laughs.] But I would appreciate and enjoy it. You know, Tupac is very near and dear to my heart. He started my career as an actor.
Yeah, he discovered me.
Yeah, he had some producers look at me to see if I could play the role of his little brother in a film called Bullet he was shooting in New York with Mickey Rourke.
So when you saw the hologram …
It was memories. You know, it’s like, I met him, I got to work with him, I got to know him a little. And I loved his music. You know, it’s real to see him doing what he loved to do onstage, even as a hologram.
Anyone else you’d like to see come back as a hologram?
Biggie. I wouldn’t mind seeing a little Biggie. You know, it’s too soon right now, my wounds are still too fresh, but Whitney.
What’s the benefit of having them come back as holograms?
It’s almost like … that’s what they’re known for. They’re known for their music. I didn’t know Tupac that well, I didn’t know Biggie, I never met Whitney, but I felt connected to them through their music and that’s what they gave the world. They gave the world their music, so to be able to see them onstage even as a hologram, to see them and to hear their voice, it’s really moving, like they’re almost really there. And that’s what they’re known for and what they gave the world.
It’s probably also nice to see them as you remember them, like a young Whitney before the drugs.
Yeah, I would love to remember Whitney for her heyday, even if it’s just through a hologram.
Have you seen Girls on HBO? There’s controversy about it having not people of color.
No. I guess I’ll get around to it eventually. I’m more of a Game of Thrones kind of guy. I’m a little freaked out about Game of Thrones right now. That’s more my speed. I really can’t wait to see what happens when the North and South fight and who’s going to win. I want to see if the daughter who hides as a boy, if they’re going to find her out and how she’ll eventually get back to her family. It just has a lot of things I really, really appreciate. A lot of good writing, a lot of good acting.
Do you want to do fantasy like that?
Why not? I’m doing a period piece right now with Boardwalk Empire.
Have you heard that Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep are going to play Romeo and Juliet for Shakespeare in the Park?
Wow. Why not? It’s a little bit of a stretch, but no question they can pull it off. Romeo and Juliet is ageless. It’s about a love story at the end of the day.
You’d think at their age they’d be too wise to act like impulsive teenagers.
I know plenty of adults who act like teenagers. I can relate to it.
And what was the last movie you paid to see in a theater?
21 Jump Street with my nephew. I enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Any reason you said, “I’m going to give my money to this movie,” instead of, like, The Hunger Games?
I was with my nephew and it was at midnight and at the last minute I decided that I didn’t want the last thing I saw that night to be a bunch of kids getting killed. I wanted some laughter. But I didn’t think it would be that good. I really enjoyed it.