Omar Comin’ (On the L)

Michael K. Williams

Williamsburg neophytes may be encountering a sensation they may not have anticipated in their new neighborhood—one as exciting as it is likely to invoke a quiet tinge of terror. They start to see him on the subway. At the FoodTown. In the McCarren Park Dog Run walking his two Miniature Schnauzers. “Omar,” as they used to say on your housemate’s DVDs of The Wire, is “comin’.”

“I was completely inebriated for a friend’s birthday,” said Rebecca Brooks, who works at a start-up. “I hate doing this to celebrities because it’s annoying, but I was so drunk, and I think he passed by, and I was like, ‘Omar!’ But he really, he literally stopped and he was like, ‘Hey what’s up?’ and I was like, ‘I love you!’”

The Transom caught up with Michael K. Williams, the actor famous for his portrayal of many people’s (including President Barack Obama’s) favorite television character of all time—Omar Little of The Wire— and, most recently, a turn as the sole African-American gangster on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Indeed, he is now a Williamsburg fixture: “I keep it low,” Mr. Williams explained. “You can easily catch me at Brooklyn Bowl any given weekend. I have a great time, every time.”

Williamsburg doesn’t enjoy a strong cache of celebrities in the neighborhood; not like Park Slope, anyway. Mr. Williams moved to Roebling Avenue about a year ago, his first proper home in seven years since leaving Flatbush to film The Wire, and he loves being a part of the scenery. He really is known to walk his dogs (“They’re crazy”), he can stroll to work at the Navy Yards studio where they shoot Boardwalk Empire, and, though he is frequently recognized in the manner Ms. Brooks described, he’s still a fan of the ’Burg.

“Oh, man. There’s so much good food out here.” Mr. Williams said. “I go to Sea quite a bit. The ambiance is just right. It’s a lively atmosphere.”

As the neighborhood transitions from having an edge to having a luxury high-rise named the Edge, sightings of Mr. Williams are increasingly the stuff of legends for locals who fairly reliably take to Twitter to document the encounters.

Marty Cuatchon, an aspiring comedian who works at Uniqulo, doesn’t even go to the Williamsburg Post Office typically, but was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that the guy holding up the line as he chatted with the post office workers was in fact Mr. Williams.

“They were saying, ‘Oh, I don’t know your shows or what shows you’ve been on’ and all that,” Mr. Cuatchon said, shocked at anyone’s inability to identify Mr. Williams. “I was like, man; I’m pretty surprised that these ladies don’t know who he is.”

Asked about a specific demographic in the neighborhood, Mr. Williams seemed characteristically unfazed.

“I’m not sure I fully quite understand what a hipster is but, you know, I think I get it,” Mr. Williams said. And then he paused. “I don’t really plug into that too much.”


Omar Comin’ (On the L)