Lovecraft Country costar Courtney B. Vance was the latest to express his fond memories with Williams at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday. Prior to that, Lovecraft’s lead actor Jonathan Majors also penned a profound essay on the relationship he and Williams shared over the years for Variety.
Now, Jurnee Smollett, who also starred alongside Williams, Vance and Majors on the multi-Emmy-nominated HBO series is also speaking her piece on Williams and reflecting on the time she shared with the iconic actor. Smollett honored Williams shortly after he was laid to rest on Tuesday in a heartfelt post to Instagram, writing:
“My brother, my heart hurts so. A part of my brain refuses to accept it…shitty part about grief—it goes in stages. For me, it started w/denial. When [Jake Smollett] called to tell me, my brain went ‘hell naw that’s not true, let me call Michael.’ And I called him. I called him over & over until my brain said stop, he’s gone. I couldn’t breathe,” she began.
“[It’s] Taken awhile for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin w/out him here in the physical form. He was supposed to be here with us this week in LA for the Emmys. He was supposed to see how big Hunter is, we were gonna dance, celebrate, cry. Instead our brother was laid to rest today. I still can’t make sense of it. Perhaps it’s selfish of me to want to hold onto this beautiful man that came into my life & forever changed it.
One of the first scenes I did w/ [Michael K. Williams] was in episode 2 of @lovecrafthbo, Uncle George’s death. We were racing the clock, losing sun, it was a long steady-cam shot, which began w/ me running into Jonathan/Atticus’ arms. In an attempt to quiet the chaos, I looked at Michael/ MONTROSE, in the backseat of Woody, holding Uncle George in his arms, I could feel the pain held behind his eyes, my soul understood it.
Thats the beauty of MKW’s instrument- he threw his entire being into each moment w/ such bravery and sacrifice. Thats all I needed…simply look in Michael/ Montrose’s eyes. After finishing the scene, Courtney came over, held Jonathan, Michael & I as we cried in each other’s arms like babies...No, like the sons & daughter of such familiar, profound paternal grief. We became the three musketeers afterwards. Our souls tied. We joked that we had a trans-physical connection.
She concluded, “I can hear your voice now giving me another pep talk, “J, get up, don’t you know you’re a fucking Queen!” I’ll miss you when I listen to [Raphael Saadiq’s] Jimmy Lee, or hear [Deepak Chopra] 21-day meditations, or when I try that one yoga pose you gave me tips on…your soft, baritone voice saying ‘Hey Kiddo.’ I take comfort in knowing that you’re finally free, somewhere dancing, being mighty, showing the angels how to really get it. Btw-You still owe me that dance…& our Bulls Jerseys. I love you #ripmichaelkwilliams.”
Ava DuVernay, who earlier spoke on Williams’ life and legacy, also shared a snippet of his role as Bobby McCray, father to one of the Exonerated Five on the Emmy-winning Netflix series When They See Us in a separate post on Tuesday, alongside an excerpt of a past Rolling Stone interview. There, The Wire star had touched on the importance of his role in the series and how DuVernay “renewed his vows with the reasons why he became an artist in the first place.”
“Actually, he renewed mine,” DuVernay later noted. “He showed me what making art with your whole heart can do for an artist when it’s at its most pure. It feels like love. And it can never be taken for granted. Ever. Remembering all the honesty and beauty he gave me every moment that I knew him from that lunch forward. I wrestle with what else could have been done. What could I have done? But actually those answers don’t matter anymore. And they are selfish questions in the first place. Guilt is about us. Not about the person who has departed. The facts are that he has journeyed on. What he battled is no more. He is free. He is love. And I pray that now, he revels in peace.”
Michael K. Williams, Jurnee Smollett, Courtney B. Vance and Jonathan Majors are respectively nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Outstanding Lead Actress, Outstanding Guest Actor, and Outstanding Lead Actor, at this year’s Primetime Emmys, airing live on Sunday, September 19 at 8p.m. ET on CBS.