Michael K. Williams (12 Years a Slave, The Purge: Anarchy) started as a back-up dancer before landing roles on major HBO shows like The Wire and the current prohibition drama Boardwalk Empire.

Emmy Nominations For Boardwalk Empire

When the 37-year-old star recently opened up to NPR about his distinct facial scar, and how it changed his career forever.

Williams was outside a party with a few friends during his 25th birthday when it looked like they were about to be jumped by some guys they didn't know. As Williams suggested he and his friends get out of there, someone came at Williams from behind and cut him across the face with a razor.

Hard Times Coming On Boardwalk Empire

"We managed to escaped with our lives, barely, that night," explained Williams. Following the incident, directors started to single him out during shoots for "thug" roles. The music video extra soon found himself moving up in the industry.

Williams' scar ultimately helped him land a role in Bullet with Tupac Shakur and Mickey Rourke after Shakur saw a photograph of Williams and decided he would be perfect for the role of his little brother in the film. "I think he saw my pain, my struggle, my heart," said Williams of the opportunity. "I was starstruck." 

After landing a few more parts, Williams found his career taking an unexpected turn. He expected the roles to just come along and when they didn't he took it really hard.

When he was cast in The Wire, however, all of that changed. The series was a critical and commercial success and his character, Omar, quickly became a fan favorite. From there, Williams landed the role of Chalky White, a criminal who managed to negotiate himself his own nightclub, on Boardwalk Empire.

Again, Williams found himself a common fan favorite amongst audience, who recognized him immiedietly from his turn as Omar.

Boardwalk Empire returns to HBO for a fifth and final season Sunday, September 7th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.