Michael K. Williams might not be the best-known actor in “Boardwalk Empire,” but thanks to his acclaimed stint as Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire,” he’s one of the most beloved.
amNewYork spoke with the 33-year-old Brooklyn native about playing “Chalky” White, a character based on Prohibition-era Atlantic City’s most prominent African-American, and working in Brooklyn.
Why is the story of Prohibition-era Atlantic City important?
[It’s] a really good story, a different type of story about the gangster. You get to see the birth of the gangster.
How has playing Chalky affected your appreciation for and understanding of Atlantic City’s black community?
I’d never really seen black people that lived in Atlantic City. I always perceived it that you’ve gotta be rich to live down there. … [Now] I know where that culture comes from. I see who my character represents and why he is the way he is.
What’s it like to work so close to your home in Brooklyn?
It’s a blessing to be able to work here in New York and Brooklyn. I remember a few years ago when the rumor mill first started about them turning the Brooklyn Navy Yard into “Hollyhood” as I called it. I used to dream about one day I won’t have to go to L.A. I didn’t think it would actually happen. It’s like a dream come true.
What did working with Martin Scorsese mean to you?
I worked with Marty before on a film called “Bringing out the Dead.” When I walked on the set, I was so humbled that he remembered me. It took away my butterflies.
How about Steve Buscemi?
People don’t know this about Steve, but he could have another career as a stand-up comedian. He’s so funny and he’s hardworking. He’s in every damn scene, damn near. … His personality would never change. I would never see his energy levels [drop].