Jesse Dittmar/Redux Michael K. Williams
In his upcoming posthumous memoir Scenes from My Life, The Wire star Michael K. Williams wrote about his life in 1991 when he was in the midst of a successful modeling and dancing career and about to head to London on tour. But on the eve of his 25th birthday, a friend called to invite him out to a club in Queens to celebrate. By midnight he was drunk, showing off his moves on the dance floor.
That's when Williams stepped outside for some air and spotted a group of men encircling an acquaintance from Brooklyn. He shouted at them, and the friend told him to go back inside.
What happened next would change Williams' life forever.
When he eventually went to leave the club for the night, Williams encountered one of the threatening men, who was now standing alone.
"In a flash, he smacked me across the face," he wrote. "I put my hand to my forehead. Then I saw the dark liquid on my fingers. The guy hadn't been slapping me. He had been cutting me open."
The man had been holding a razor, cutting Williams "from my forehead, across the bridge of my nose, down my right cheek almost to my jawbone."
Arturo Holmes/Getty Michael K. Williams
As Williams bled profusely, his friend sped him to the emergency room, where he waited in excruciating pain all night for a plastic surgeon to come on duty, knowing what the wrong set of hands could do to his photogenic face — and his career.
Eventually, "the cut healed into one big swollen line and I never felt more ugly," he wrote. But over time, a curious thing happened. "Strangers would stop me on the street and say they found my scars striking. I began to get gigs in music videos, not even to dance," he wrote. David LaChapelle asked to photograph him; Tupac Shakur cast him from a headshot to play his younger brother in Williams' first movie, 1996's Bullet.
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Scenes from My Life is available everywhere books are sold on Aug. 23.