Jurnee Smollett pays tribute to 'Lovecraft Country' co-star Michael K. Williams on day of his funeral: 'My brother, my heart hurts so'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4-min read
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 07: Michael K. Williams poses for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards on March 07, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for ABA)
Michael K. Williams's funeral took place Tuesday in Pennsylvania — eight days after he was found dead in his Brooklyn, NY, penthouse apartment. (Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for ABA)

Jurnee Smollett posted a tribute to her Lovecraft Country co-star Michael K. Williams on the day his funeral took place in Pennsylvania.

"My brother, my heart hurts so," she began her social media post. "A part of my brain refuses to accept it."

She called the "sh*tty part about grief" is that it goes in stages, starting with denial when her brother Jake Smollett called to tell her that The Wire and Boardwalk Empire alum was found dead of a suspected overdose in his Brooklyn apartment on Sept. 6. 

"My brain went, 'Hell naw, that’s not true, let me call Michael,'" Smollett recalled. "And I called him. I called him over & over until my brain said stop, he's gone. I couldn’t breathe."

She said it's "taken awhile for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin [without] him here in the physical form." After all, Williams, who was 54, was supposed to be in L.A. this week, with the Lovecraft Country cast, for the Emmys. The HBO show, on which he played Montrose Freeman and she's Leti Lewis, earned 18 nominations. Williams received a nomination for Drama Supporting Actor while she is up for Drama Actress at Sunday's awards show.

"He was supposed to see how big Hunter is" on his L.A. visit, referring to her 4-year-old son. "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 and forever changed it."

Jurnee Smollett and Michael K. Williams on the set of Lovecraft Country. (Screenshot: Jurnee Smollett via Instagram)
Jurnee Smollett and Michael K. Williams on the set of Lovecraft Country. (Screenshot: Jurnee Smollett via Instagram)

Smollett wrote about working together, sharing their first scenes — around Uncle George's death — in episode two. She recalled how it was a hectic day shooting and how she found a connection looking in Williams's eyes.

"I could feel the pain held behind his eyes, my soul understood it," she said. "Thats the beauty of MKW’s instrument. He threw his entire being into each moment [with] such bravery and sacrifice. Thats all I needed… simply look in Michael/ Montrose’s eyes."

She said after finishing the scene, "Courtney [B. Vance, George] came over, held Jonathan [Majors], 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."

Smollett said she'd think of Williams when she listens to singers Raphael Saadiq and Jimmy Lee, hears a Deepak Chopra meditation or does the yoga pose Williams "gave me tips on."

However, she could hear his "voice now giving me another pep talk, 'J, get up, don't you know you're a f**king Queen!'" And she said she takes "comfort in knowing that you’re finally free, somewhere dancing, being mighty, showing the angels how to really get it."

She ended with, "You still owe me that dance…& our Bulls Jerseys. I love you."

Williams's funeral was held Tuesday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pa., near where his mother, Paula Williams, has lived for 20 years. There were about 175 mourners in attendance, and it was livestreamed.

Queen Latifah attended the 60-minute service as well as the creator of The Wire, David Simon, and several actors from that show, including Andre Royo (“Bubbles”) Jamie Hector (Marlo) and Felicia Pearson (Snoop), according to Penn Live. Flowers were sent by Gabrielle Union and Mariah Carey.

Williams's nephew, Dominic Dupont, who reportedly found him, spoke at the service.

The report noted Williams would be buried in the Harrisburg area. The director for the funeral home which handled his services, Johnathan Branam of Hooper Memorial Home, said the Brooklynite "came to Harrisburg as often as he could. He loved his mama. And he was a man of the community. Harrisburg embraced him as an adopted son.” Other memorials are expected to take place in N.Y. and L.A.

The actor's obituary noted Williams's "soulmate" was Goli Samii, an actress and writer, and that he had "three adopted children Karim, Chanel and Elijah."

Samii also posted the day of his funeral calling Williams "the humblest kindest funniest most generous warrior." 

Samii wrote, "As we bid adieu. To you. We promise to hold your dreams and fight the fight for you For the community. For your dream of making kids win MKW. We traveled the world together. Dreams. Portals. Empires. King warrior of the broken hearted. Saying goodbye to you is my hardest goodbye. Hold my hand. I'm holding yours." 

She ended by writing, "Love forever my warrior."

NYPD has been investigating Williams's death as a suspected overdose — as drug paraphernalia was reportedly recovered in his luxury apartment. The five-time Emmy nominee had spoken openly about past struggles with drugs.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting