Gbenga Akinnagbe is reflecting on his late The Wire costar Michael K. Williams.
Williams died Monday at age 54. “It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams,” his rep told PEOPLE. “They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
On Tuesday, Akinnagbe, 42, appeared on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast and paid tribute to Williams’ legacy.
“He was just a huge, genuine heart — a bleeding heart — and then it was easy to love,” he said. “He believed in helping others and helping others help themselves. He was constantly talking about different non-profits he was trying to support or start, different folks he was helping to shelter. He was always doing things for other people.”
Akinnagbe also shared that making The Wire “bonded” the two actors together. The acclaimed HBO series, which aired from 2002 through 2008, focused on the narcotics scene in Baltimore from the perspective of both the law enforcement officers and the drug users and dealers.
“We went through something beautiful and difficult, which was the making of that show together when nobody was paying attention to it,” Akinnagbe said. “We made that show and showed up when no one was paying attention. We did it for us, we did it for Baltimore, did it for the stories we were trying to tell. That bonded us, and Michael got that.”
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He said he’s “still in shock” about Williams’ death, adding that he’s “not sure” how he died.
Williams was found dead on Monday afternoon at around 2 p.m. in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, an NYPD source told PEOPLE. His nephew discovered his body in the living room.
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Although his cause of death has not yet been determined, drug paraphernalia was found in the apartment, according to the New York Post. A separate law enforcement source told PEOPLE that Williams died of a suspected overdose and that officials believe he may have had heroin laced with fentanyl.
“We knew that he struggled with addiction. Addiction is such a beast, it is such a beast, and it affects people with different socioeconomic backgrounds, just different races, and so on,” Akinnagbe said.
“That man’s lived so many lives,” he later added. “I’m more sad for us than him because he had such a full beautiful life. I mean, there were ups and downs definitely, but that man, he tasted life. I respected that and I learned from that. There wasn’t anything that he felt like he couldn’t try or do. He was game to seize it. I mean, this is more a loss for us than him. He had a beautiful life.”