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Exclusive: Michael K. Williams Reveals Possible Role In "Django Unchained" + Was In Running For Lead

by Monique
September 21, 2011 7:41 AM
14 Comments
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One thing we've noticed on S&A is that there are certain actors who seem to be favorites of S&A readers, and Michael K Williams definitely is at the top of that list...deservedly so. I recently had the chance, and honor, of chatting with this gracious man.

As you can see from the picture above, he was most definitely dapper and courteous, calling me a "baby" which is a compliment I can live with. He talked about his role on Boadwalk Empire, working with HBO in the future, and a possible role in the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.

-What can we look forward to in regards to the growth of Chalky's character in this season of Boardwalk Empire? Not to spoil it but can you give us a little hint into where the writer's are taking his storyline?
This season we're definitely going to get a bigger insight into Chalky's world, into his life, we meet his family. He has a wife and three children. Through that world we see his insecurities, his vulnerabilities, like a crack in the armor if you will. From the business side, he finds himself in the crosshairs of someone who's gunning for Nucky and that's a very bad place to be.

You know, he's just a black man that wants to make his money and take care of his people. He doesn't really have a beef with the political drama Nucky's caught up in but he finds himself in the middle of it anyway. He has to redefine his relationship with Nucky and vice versa, in the process, they realize they have more in common with each other than they do in their own separate world.

Chalky's relationship to his community is greatly questioned and you're going to hear the word "justice" come out of his mouth a lot. He has to use his relationship with Nucky as leverage to make sure that certain things are done, as retribution to what happens in episode one.

-Do you see yourself in Chalky, do you see elements of yourself in him?
Absolutely. I put in a lot of ancestral energy to bring Chalky to life. For me my father being a black man from the South, I know I've had family that dealt with the Klan, probably killed by the hands of the Klan. So that blood runs in me. He's real close to the fire that I am. The blood is still there, the pain has never left.

My character's are very dark and there's a residue you have to wash off of you when you leave the set.

-Off of that, your role on Community must have been quite different for you. Was it a way to decompress from playing so many dark characters and could you see yourself doing more comedy in the future?
Well the character I play on Community is called Mr. Kane, he's a biology professor. It wasn't a real big stretch from what I'm use to doing...with professor Kane he got his degree in prison; 25 years in prison he took the time to get his degree, so there's a darkness there in him even in this comedy. Where I get to be funny, the writers didn't take me too far out of my zone because I don't have the gift of comedic timing but they put me around these veteran comics, comedic actors and the tension of them reacting to my darkness is where the comedy comes in. I was very fortunate to be given that opportunity and to be in that world. It is a chance to laugh at myself and be light-hearted. I would definitely do more comedy again.

-With quality lead roles being so scarce for black actors and actresses, especially in films, do you think more of your fellow thespians should learn to develop their own projects?
That's right, I 100 percent agree that's why I have FREEDOME productions which stands for Domepiece beneath the head. I have several projects in development, soon to be in bed with HBO. I'm very excited! Mark Walberg has been a huge inspiration and a template for what I want to do in the future. I think it's healthy for any actor, white or black,to gain power in Hollywood. You have to own something.

-Your name was floated around a lot in regards to Django Unchained. At Shadow and Act, there was a lot of talk about how you could play that role. I was wondering if the part was ever offered to you and did the script ever come your way? If it were offered to you would you have considered doing the movie?
The rumors of me being considered for the lead role in Django [Unchained] is very true. I was in meetings with Quentin, QT as I call him. It came down to Jamie and I. Wow... what a person to lose to. It's not official yet but there's a lot of talk that there may be a role coming back 'round my way.

-Oh another role?
Yes another role in the film. It's not official yet but there's a chance. His people and my people have been in discussions in regards to a role that he is creating for me.

-Well Wow! That's a testament to how talented you are.
I give all praises due to the man upstairs. I tend to not want what's not for me. If it's mine I'm going to get it. So apparently if this happens, this is what it was meant to be. I take it gratefully.

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14 Comments

  • CareyCarey | September 22, 2011 9:42 AMReply

    OH NO, I find myself on the other side of the fence from BondGirl. I don't think "wrong choice" are the right words to use, especially in using Brad Pitts - in Inglorious Bastards - as an example. What, Brad didn't bring it?

    I'm going to defer my reasoning to jug's example and add... Jamie Fox has proven he can do the damn thang. Plus, who is Michael Williams? Seriously, ask the person standing next to you (as long as it's not an S&A reader) to bring you the head of Michael Williams and they might bring you Michael Jordan or Montel Williams. I jest, but in this instance... this debate "wrong choice" is like having 2 cars, one a Ferrari (with no gas in it) and the other a busted down yet dependable beater. Which one would you jump in to take your wife to the hospital because she was having y'alls first child?

  • Jug | September 22, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    Carey you are right about that LOL Not to make this a referendum on Jamie Foxx, but I think that might be a reason why he isn't sought after for more films. Well, that & he wants to be a Rock Star (pouring girls their "medicine" in Grey Goose Bottles and what not LOL)

    Yeah he's rich, so he could get something made, but I wonder if other filmmakers are like "Uhh, really? Jamie??" Like Michael said, it was down to the two of them, aren't there more high profile actors than Michael in Hollywood?

    Says volumes about Michael's stock rising and Jamie's...well..... LOL

  • CareyCarey | September 22, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    @ BondGirl & Jug, you guys are dropping some great lines. I am officially stealing them.

    "Problem is, he walks the line at suave bolla and arrogant sometimes"

    "I asked him “Really?” and he replied “Yeah, Jamie gets a little “stagey” when he’s angry”-like he’s playing anger instead of “You, Dead, Now” and that energy pushing right through the other actor"

    But let me be perfectly honest, I've seen Jamie jackup some sh*t more than I can praise him. Come on now, in my humble opinion he's like the home run hitter on the baseball team. The coach doesn't give a damn about his batting average. As long as he drives that ball out of the park (every once in awhile), he's good to go. Ninety percent of the time jamie is all that suave bolla and arrogant and “stagey” crazy mess (didn't we see a lot of that in Dream Girls?). Buuuuuuuut, QT will use him effectively.

  • Jug | September 22, 2011 4:44 AMReply

    Bondgirl, you called it, I enjoyed Pitt in INGLORIOUS, but his accent was WTF for real LOL I guess Quentin just "Luuuuuved it" so they kept. It's one thing to do gibberish in SNATCH, it's another to just come with a straight from Mars southern accent.

    I spoke to a friend about it & he had a great point. First, I realized that my thoughts on Django are from reading the script, which not everyone has. Second, I'm thinking like a CD or producer & not a fan. Those things influence my position. That aside, he then said he wasn't sure if Jamie had the intensity & passion that a movie like this might require. I asked him "Really?" and he replied "Yeah, Jamie gets a little "stagey" when he's angry"-like he's playing anger instead of "You, Dead, Now" and that energy pushing right through the other actor. Perfect example, Denzel in TRAINING DAY "KING KONG AIN'T GOT SHIT ON ME!". Not that it has to be bombastic, but that volcanic rise focused like a missile on a mission, definitely interested to see if he can do it.

    I also definitely agree about the suave & arrogant. MIAMI VICE...Oh Lord LOL but in THE KINGDOM he came close to not only what I talked about above, but that Idris Elba type charisma. He's not trying to schmooze, but he's so damn confident that you get on board LOL

    And for real, I think people forget Jamie in COLLATERAL, ALI & THE SOLOIST. Sure, he phoned shit in like VALENTINE'S DAY, DUE DATE & STEALTH. But what star hasn't? DeNiro's been phoning shit in for 10 years now & that shows just how good he is because folks still buy it :-D

    If someone's a fan of Michael, cool...I am too. But you honestly can't say that Michael Williams is a better actor than Jamie. I think that's a "I don't like Jamie" reaction. Like not voting "for" a candidate, but voting "against" the other one.

  • B | September 22, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    Ohmyeffinggod, he would've been the perfect cowboy (didn't even think of him)! Now I'm just mad. Jaime effing Fox, over Michael K. Williams? White practically WAS a cowboy on The Wire. Now I'm just mad. I'm so not seeing this movie now. Absolutely not. (But kudos to White for possibly landing a role and gaining some exposure). Sigh.

  • BondGirl | September 22, 2011 3:18 AMReply

    @Carey: LOL...nope, we're back on the same side again. Here's why:

    1. Jug's breakdown of the Django character as "charming" fits Jamie better. I haven't seen The Wire, and only seen MKW on Boardwalk Empire, but Jamie can def do charming. Problem is, he walks the line at suave bolla and arrogant sometimes. With a director who's as precise in his character development as QT is, I'm sure he knows that Jamie can pull it off the right way.

    2. Film industry is a business first, and you gotta get asses in seats to see the art. Period.

    3. I enjoyed Brad Pitt's performance (my favorite line: " You don't gotta to be Stonewall Jackson to know you don't wanna be fightin' in a basement."). However, that accent ruined most it for me. I found it ATROCIOUS, lol

  • Tamara | September 22, 2011 2:49 AMReply

    Like him. great interview!

  • urbanautuer | September 21, 2011 12:44 PMReply

    @Darken, i agree wholeheartedly.

  • charmie1555 | September 21, 2011 12:31 PMReply

    Bondgirl, you are right, he is not from the South. His Father was, his mom is West Indian and he is from Brooklyn, East Flatbush.

    My sidenote: Jamie is well known, better choice for the box office. Michael K WIlliams is the better actor, no argument there.

  • Jug | September 21, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    And no, I'm not sold on Jamie either, but he'll do LOL jj

  • Jug | September 21, 2011 11:03 AMReply

    I don't think QT made the wrong choice, I think he made the best choice from the "name" choices available.

    I went round & round before with folks who loved the idea of Michael Williams as Django. But I submit, Django is-for lack of a better description-"Charming". Charming, not in the corny "Mario Lopez" sense, but Charming in the "wow, I don't know him or why but I WANT to get to know him" sort of way. Michael K Williams, in everything I've seen him in, from THE WIRE to THE KILL PIT to THE ROAD, has not been "charming". Hence, the idea of Will Smith. When not being corny, Will is amazingly Charming, especially in interviews & in, dare I say it, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS.

    On THE WIRE gravitated to Omar because he was no damn joke and had the best lines. He was so badass, the same "No Homo" cats would call out Omar as the shit!....but the most "Charming" & "Charismatic" dude on that show-by far-was Stringer Bell. No less foul & cunning, he had his best friend's brother murdered and we didn't bat an eye. Shit, he even got us to agree with it. We agreed with Omar only because his principles worked in a dog-eat-dog world & he was doing shit to drug dealers, people we already didn't like. Stringer, got us to believe that if in that moment we would commit fratricide too because DeAngelo was "wrong" for wanting to go "right" (all that stop snitching crap).

    In QT's movie, Django is about to seriously fuck some white people up, we have to like him & be on his side. Like DISTRICT 9, the brilliance is from the very beginning we side with the aliens, they're more human & humane than the humans. That is what is at the heart of Django & DJANGO UNCHAINED. We have to want to yell at the screen "GOD DAMNED RIGHT, KILL THAT WHITE MUTHAFUCKA!!" and then look and see the white person next to us saying the same thing.

    Next, Humor. Michael may be a nice guy. Actually, he is because I know folks who've worked with him. But this ain't about who he really is, it's about his "type" and what his skill level will allow him to play. He said it himself above (which I've referenced in the past), he does Dark. Period. No Smiles (unless he's killing you) and certainly no lightness of being. Has he had the opportunity to play it? No, not really. But he did have a chance in THE KILL PIT and what he did was "Omar", Mr. Slow Burn intensity. While that may work for 1/4 of the movie, the killing scenes maybe, it won't for 3/4 of the movie. And when I brought this up before, folks told me I was crazy. Well, the man done told you in his own words "I don't do comedy".

    And personally, I think to instantly say Michael goes a loooong way to diminish him as an actor & as a character because if the only reason some people say it is because the character is a "slave" & because of his "Look" (be honest, some of y'all did it...Dark Skin, Thick Scar on the face), it goes to the House Nigga/Field Nigga debate. A Black Man can only be manly or intimidating the more harsh his features, which is total & utter horseshit. Anyone who EVER would try and test the manhood of Ali or Malcolm Little would have a nice thang coming. Denzel & Obama get my attention. LOL

    Would he have done a good job? Maybe. Probably! I just think it might not have been the best it could have been & there are other more "interesting" choices.

  • BondGirl | September 21, 2011 10:09 AMReply

    @darkan: Absolutely! QT made the wrong choice...went with the name actor over quality. He made the same wrong choice casting Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds. Hopefully, Jamie got a great acting coach to work with him on the script.

    Side note: Since when is MKW from the South?? That man oozes Brooklyn, lol

  • darkan | September 21, 2011 9:58 AMReply

    He would have been a much better choice than Jaime. QT will be kicking himself in the end when it falls flat.

  • other song | September 21, 2011 7:50 AMReply

    Omar!!!

    wish good things for this brotha

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