Tag Archives: Boardwalk Empire

No Longer Omar: Actor Michael K. Williams On Lucky Breaks And Letting Go

Actor Michael K. Williams is known for playing morally ambiguous, sometimes violent characters. As Omar Little on The Wire, Williams was a fearless stick-up man who stole money from drug dealers. In Boardwalk Empire, he played Chalky White, a bootlegger in Prohibition-era Atlantic City. Now, in the new HBO series The Night Of,he’s a powerful inmate in New York’s notorious Rikers Island Prison.

Williams tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that playing such intense characters sometimes takes a psychic toll. “When I wear these characters to the extent that I wear them to, that [energy’s] gotta go somewhere,” he says. The dark energy of Omar Little, for example, “was a little too close to home.” Williams struggled with addiction while he worked on The Wire and eventually sought help at a church in New Jersey.

Now the actor practices prayer and meditation, which help him separate from his work. “One of the main things that’s changed from when I was first on The Wire and to now — in, particularly, The Night Of — is I know how to differentiate myself from the character. … I still go in just as deep, but now I have the tools … to pull myself out of that.”

No Longer Omar: Actor Michael K. Williams On Lucky Breaks And Letting Go (Fresh Air podcast)

Literally the night of the day that I listened to this podcast, we decided to watch the first episode of the crime series “Hap and Leonard.” And who shows up as a co-star but Williams?

“Hap and Leonard” looks good so far; we’ve only seen one episode but it’s good enough to get us watching the second. It starts with a car chase like something out of a 70s Burt Reynolds movie, and doesn’t slow down from there. I got the recommendation from a panelist on The Incomparable podcast, who said rightly that if you liked “Justified,” you’ll like “Hap and Leonard.”

“Boardwalk Empire:” Thanksgiving at the Darmody house has got to be all kinds of awkward

We love this show. Or, at least, I do. Julie watches it with me and does not appear to be having a bad time.

I can foresee how this season ends: Jimmy Darmody dead, killed by the Jewish butcher who gets tired of waiting for his liquor. Harrow escapes, to return in some future episode down the road. Nucky Thompson triumphantly returns, to punish the people who betrayed him and take up his position once again as the Treasurer of Atlantic City.

It’s hard to imagine the show without Jimmy Darmody and his family. They’ve been central. But it’s hard to imagine it ending up any other way.

Even by the standards of Boardwalk Empire, relationships are deranged between Jimmy Darmody, Momma Darmody, the Commodore, and Nucky. Momma Darmody “kissed his little winkie.” Nuff said. Jimmy hates Nucky because Nucky pimped Momma Darmody — which is true as far as it goes. But Jimmy and Momma ally with the Commodore, who is the person that Nucky whored Momma out to. And, while Nucky was kind to Momma (turning-out-as-whore aside) and like a father to Jimmy, the Commodore raped Momma — and Momma still hates him for it — and ignored Jimmy for Jimmy’s whole life. And yet Momma and Jimmy turn on Nucky and ally with the Commodore. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE BATSHIT CRAZY, that’s why.

Thanksgiving at the Darmody household has got to be all kinds of awkward.

I could totally watch a series about Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, and Arnold Rothstein as they’re portrayed in Boardwalk Empire.

I love a show like Boardwalk Empire or The Sopranos where all the characters are evil, and you choose who the good guys and bad guys are based on their likability and personal courage. Nucky is the hero of Boardwalk Empire because he is the main character, and he is kind to Margaret and her children and basically anybody who doesn’t threaten him, although he is also ruthless, a liar, and a crook. Darmody and Eli are bad guys because they betray Nucky, but really he’s no better than they are.

Is there a name for this kind of genre? I remember reading that it was popular during the Renaissance; I seem to recall Tamburlaine by Christopher Marlowe (a supporting character in Shakespeare in Love) was a drama of this type.