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Michael K. Williams chats about bringing truth to 'The Gambler'

Michael K. Williams

Michael K. Williams Photo Credit: Getty Images / Getty Images/Slaven Vlasic

Michael Kenneth Williams has made a career out of playing complex characters. That much is apparent from his television work on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and the cult hit "The Wire."

In the film "The Gambler," out Thursday, Williams has the upper hand. The character-actor plays Neville, a clever gangster, who would much rather own an avocado farm then roll the dice with Professor Jim Bennet (Mark Wahlberg).

Williams spoke with amNew York about the film.


Neville has such humor and swagger. Was that something you brought out?

That was there. That's really what attracted me to the character at first was his swagger. The way he walked, talked, and dressed. In fact, the first interaction that Jim and Neville have is a competition about Neville's hat, so all of that was very attractive to me. Even the music he listened to. I thought, "Wow. This dude is 'other.' He is not the standard."


What do you look for in characters in general?

Truth. I've got to believe that this exists. I've got to believe that someone lives like this or understands or feels like the character. Once I believe it I know I'm going to touch someone.


Where do you think Neville's journey ends once the credits roll?

You know, that's a good question. Neville is tired of the game. I think he's tired of the hustle and bustle of the gambling world. However, Jim dropped a gem in his lap in LeVar, the ball player, so we don't really know if he's going to walk away from it, and get that avocado farm.


How was it working with Mark Wahlberg?

That was a dream come true. That's something I can scratch off my bucket list now. I've known Mark for a long time. We met through a mutual friend years ago when he was a rapper and I was a background dancer. I remember early on in my acting career I used to tell my friends, 'One day I'm going to do a movie with Mark Wahlberg,' and they would laugh at me. And here we are.


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