The death of beloved actor Michael K. Williams is still being felt both throughout and beyond Hollywood by those who knew and loved him. Since his death was announced on Monday, several industry greats such as Ava DuVernay, Wendell Pierce, Mariah Carey, Spike Lee and Lance Reddick have all sent out messages of support and fond memories of their time with the actor. Courtney B. Vance, who recently co-starred in the HBO drama Lovecraft Country with Williams, also shared kind words about his time working with him on Tuesday. Now, Jonathan Majors, who reunited with Williams to portray his son in Lovecraft (the two previously played young and mature versions of the same character in the miniseries When We Rise—Majors’ first onscreen role), is finally speaking out in a touching tribute to the much beloved actor for Variety, which reads in part:
I met Michael on a steaming day in San Francisco. The year was 2016, and it was my first job. We were to play the same character, that of the late Ken Jones, an LGBTQ rights activist, in the mini-series “When We Rise.” Though we shared no scenes, we shared the same spirit, being assigned the same role. The time we spent eating, talking, praying, laughing, built a bond and connection that would then serve as the bedrock of our second coming together in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
Years had passed, and we had both grown as artists and as human beings. Prior to shooting, Michael reached out and we met up in New York, just to kick it. It was there a promise was made “to be our brother’s keeper.” We were to look after each other, on-screen and off. We were aware of the challenges — that the characters we were to play held a mirror up to both of us — and the expense of spirit to tell this story we both knew would require a herculean amount of our private selves.
The dynamics of storytelling are so divine and so demanding that lifetime bonds are oftentimes forged. In this case, the love, respect and trust that was shared off-screen as men, as Black men, as artists, as spiritual beings and at times tormented souls, catapulted us onto the screen. It was here I saw how much mettle Michael had, how tough and courageous, how willing he was to examine his hurt and his own joy in order to keep his brother, in order to heal the person across from him and all who were blessed enough to view his dynamic work. He was the protector of that promise.
He then reflected on Williams’ true embodiment of an angel on Earth, recounting the ways in which Williams helped look after him as both mentor and friend over the years: buying him undergarments, picking up the tab, explaining the various nuances of colognes and candles, and the last words they uttered to each other, a simple “I love you, bro.”
Majors concluded, “Though gone, he’s closer than we think. Resting finally, taking his joy and might to another space and continuing with fervor the pledge ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’ smiling that toothy grin, his eyes shining and his raspy voice whispering, ‘I love you,’ only now sporting his newly minted wings. Our angel. We love you, Michael. Thank you for your protection and your light.”