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Jurnee Smollett Shares Emotional Tribute to Michael K. Williams: “He Threw His Entire Being Into Each Moment”

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

Jurnee Smollett is paying tribute to her Lovecraft Country co-star Michael K. Williams following his death.

Taking to her Instagram on Wednesday, the actress reflected on her time working with Williams and how she is struggling to accept his death.

“My brother, my heart hurts so. A part of my brain refuses to accept it … shitty part about grief-it goes in stages,” Smollett wrote. She shared that after learning about his death from her brother Jake Smollett, she was immediately in denial. She recalled thinking, “‘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. Taken awhile for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin w/out him here in the physical form,” she wrote.

Williams, who was best known for his revolutionary role as Omar Little On HBO’s The Wire , died on Sept. 6 at the age of 54. He recently portrayed Montrose Freeman on the drama series Lovecraft Country . His performance landed him a 2021 Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.

Reflecting on the approaching Sept. 19 awards ceremony, Smollett continued, “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.”

She continued to reminisce about filming the death of Uncle George, portrayed by Courtney B. Vance , during the second episode of Lovecraft Country : “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.”

Smollett added, “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.”

She described the relationships between herself, Williams and Jonathan Majors , who played Atticus Freeman, as being “like sons and daughter of a such familiar, profound paternal grief. We became the three musketeers afterwards. Our souls tied.”

The actress ended the post addressing Williams directly, writing, “I’ll miss you when I listen to @raphael_saadiq Jimmy Lee, or hear @deepakchopra 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.”

Along with the heartfelt message, Smollett posted a series of photos of Williams on the set of their show.

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