Best co-starring performances: The Wire (HBO, 2002-2008), Life During Wartime (2009), The Road (2009), Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010-present)

It's only a matter of time before Michael K. Williams lands that breakthrough leading role in a critically lauded independent flick. You know, the kind of part that catches the mainstream's awareness, puts him into all of the awards season conversations, and wakes up those sleeping Hollywood casting directors who've only considered the Boardwalk Empire standout for minor characters in genre films.

In a perfect world, Quentin Tarantino would've taken the less obvious route in casting this December's slave-gets-revenge pic Django Unchained and chosen Williams for the title role. As we've seen on both The Wire and Boardwalk Empire, the Brooklyn native is brilliant at lending dark, unapproachable antiheroes an underlying warmth.

He's an incredibly charming guy (check any of his on-camera and/or print interviews for proof), and that likability radiates through his otherwise brooding performances.

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