Jurnee Smollett Writes Emotional Tribute to Michael K. Williams: “I Still Can’t Make Sense of It”
In a lengthy message posted on her Instagram on Wednesday, Septmber 15, Smollett talked about her time working with Williams, her reaction to finding out about his death, and how she has been struggling with the grief.
“My brother, my heart hurts so. A part of my brain refuses to accept it … s**tty part about grief-it goes in stages. For me, it started w/ denial,” the Friday Night Lights alum wrote. She explained how she heard the news from her brother Jake Smollett and refused to believe it. “My brain went “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.”
“[It’s] taken awhile for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin w/out him here in the physical form,” she 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.”
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Williams starred alongside Smollett in HBO’s Lovecraft Country, where he portrayed Montrose Freeman, which earned him a 2021 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Smollett recalled one of the first scenes she filmed with the late actor, which was the death of Courtney B. Vance‘s character Uncle George.
“We were racing the clock, losing sun, it was a long steady-cam shot, which began w/ me running into Jonathan/Atticus’ arms,” she wrote. “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.”
She 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.”
The Emmy-nominated actress finished her post with a direct message to Williams, 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.”