Lance Reddick, a Baltimore native and character actor who specialized in intense, icy and possibly sinister authority figures on TV and film, including “The Wire,” “Fringe” and the “John Wick” franchise, has died. He was 60.
Reddick, a graduate of Friends School, died “suddenly” Friday morning, his publicist Mia Hansen said in a statement, attributing his death to natural causes.
Reddick was often put in a suit or a crisp uniform during his career, playing tall taciturn and elegant men of distinction. He was best known for his role as straight-laced Lt. Cedric Daniels on the hit HBO series “The Wire,” where his character was agonizingly trapped in the messy politics of the Baltimore Police Department.
“I’m an artist at heart. I feel that I’m very good at what I do. When I went to drama school, I knew I was at least as talented as other students, but because I was a Black man and I wasn’t pretty, I knew I would have to work my butt off to be the best that I would be, and to be noticed,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.
David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” said in a statement that he was devastated by the death of Reddick, calling him “a consummate professional, a devoted collaborator, a lovely soul and a friend.”
“This is just gutting and way, way, way too soon for any of us who knew and loved him to contemplate,” Simon said.
Wendell Pierce, Reddick’s co-star on “The Wire” paid tribute on Twitter. “A man of great strength and grace,” he wrote. “As talented a musician as he was an actor. The epitome of class.”
“John Wick — Chapter Four” director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves said they were dedicating the upcoming film to Reddick and were “deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss.”
Reddick also starred on the Fox series “Fringe” as a special agent Phillip Broyles, the smartly dressed Matthew Abaddon on “Lost” and played the multiskilled Continental Hotel concierge Charon in the “John Wick” movies, including the fourth in the series opening this month
He earned a SAG Award nomination in 2021 as part of the ensemble for Regina King’s film “One Night in Miami.” Reddick played recurring roles on “Intelligence” and “American Horror Story” and was on the show “Bosch” for its seven-year run.
His upcoming projects included 20th Century’s remake of “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Shirley,” Netflix’s biopic of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. He was also slated to appear in the “John Wick” spinoff “Ballerina,” as well as “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.”
The Baltimore-born-and-raised Reddick was a Yale University drama school graduate who enjoyed some success after school by landing guest or recurring roles “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He also appeared in several movies, including “I Dreamed of Africa,” “The Siege” and “Great Expectations.”
It was on season four of “Oz,” playing a doomed undercover officer sent to prison who becomes an addict, that Reddick had a career breakthrough.
“I was never interested in television. I always saw it as a means to an end. Like so many actors, I was only interested in doing theater and film. But ‘Oz’ changed television. It was the beginning of HBO’s reign on quality, edgy, artistic stuff. Stuff that hearkens back to great cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” he told The Associated Press in 2011.
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“When the opportunity for ‘Oz’ came up, I jumped. And when I read the pilot for ‘The Wire,’ as a guy that never wanted to be on television, I realized I had to be on this show.”
In a statement, HBO noted the “iconic roles” that Reddick played in both “The Wire” and “Oz.”
“He is held in the highest regard by all who knew and worked with him and we are proud to be part of his legacy,” the company said. “He will be missed dearly.”
Reddick attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music, where he studied classical composition, and he played piano. His first album, the jazzy “Contemplations and Remembrances,” came out in 2011.
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Reddick had a recurring role as Jeffrey Tetazoo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, on CBS’ “Intelligence.” On “American Horror Story: Coven,” Reddick portrayed Papa Legba, the go-between between humanity and the spirit world.
In a 2006 interview with The Baltimore Sun, Reddick described himself as a fan of comic books and Beethoven. His dream car was a black 1966 Chevy Stingray convertible and he enjoyed reading about “history and the philosophy of religion.”
In April 2020, the alumni group of Friends School posted a video interview with Reddick, a member of the class of 1980. Wearing a “Proud to be Baltimore” t-shirt, Reddick described himself as a shy and insecure teen who later found a deep sense of empathy through acting.
“The thing I realized when I was acting is that I got to play around with ‘being.’ In other words, it wasn’t just pretend. I found that I could play around with actually trying to put myself in the shoes of another human being,” Reddick said. “It ended up being an exercise in compassion.”
Reddick said he began to do community productions in Boston before studying theater at Yale, which “completely changed my life.” Around the time of the interview, Reddick had begun to do more comedic work — which he described as a welcome break from his more serious roles — including a role on the Comedy Central show “Corporate.”
“That has been for me, just artistically and politically, it’s been a highlight of my career,” Reddick said. “It’s the only other experience that I’ve had that felt as fulfilling as ‘The Wire.’”
Reddick is survived by his wife, Stephanie Reddick, and children, Yvonne Nicole Reddick and Christopher Reddick.