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Michael Kenneth Williams, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Introduced via a typically badass cool guy clip from the upcoming Superfly remake (where he plays lead Trevor Jackson’s mentor/martial arts sensei), Michael K. Williams charmed the hell out of fellow South Carolinian Stephen Colbert on Tuesday’s Late Show. Sharing his love of cooking fine Caribbean dishes (plus grits), and his fond, sad memories of taking the late Anthony Bourdain up on his offer to show him Brooklyn’s finest cuisine for No Reservations, Williams, as is his wont, was the effortlessly charismatic and entertaining guest any talk show host would thank his booking people for. Speaking of his time touring the Brooklyn projects where he grew up (“not bougie Williamsburg where I live now,” he joked), Williams feelingly expressed his all-around admiration for Bourdain. Whether for the fact that all the Brooklyn kids swarming around the pair had eyes only for Bourdain, or the fact that the legendary gourmand was one of the few people he’d met who really knew how to eat the oxtails at Gloria’s in Crown Heights, Williams was only too happy to respond to Colbert’s request for his favorite Bourdain experience.

And while Williams feigned annoyance that those little Brooklyn kids had no idea who Omar Little was, he had a definite fan in Colbert. Asking his guest about his practice of playing himself into the right mindset for his characters with carefully chosen playlists, Colbert got Williams to reveal which artists matched up with the likes of Boardwalk Empire’s Chalky White (Nas), The Night Of’s Freddy Knight (Mary J. Blige and Biggie), and even those just right for a late-night talk show appearance. (Leon Bridges and Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer, as it turns out.) He didn’t get to the inner soundtrack for The Spoils Before Dying’s hilariously hard-boiled jazz cat Rock Banyon, sadly. For Omar Little, Williams claims he drew a connection to Lauryn Hill’s divisive MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, interestingly enough. (Williams admitted the ragged concert “wasn’t for everybody,” which lines up pretty well with Nathan Rabin’s My World Of Flops hybridized assessment, “Secret Fiascocess.”) Being the shining light in the world that he is, Williams even provided Colbert with his own pre-show theme, an Aretha Franklin medium cut that, as with his other choices, feels, incongruously, just right.


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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