RIP Lance Reddick

In a bit of left-field and tragic news, actor Lance Reddick has died. I was alerted to this by a friend who’s somehow always ahead of the curve on celebrity deaths, though he never breaks these things delicately. I don’t know how you can, especially if he doesn’t know it’s one of my favorite actors. No, I never met Lance Reddick, but I’ll tell you, I’m writing this having shed a few tears.

I know. I’m still trying to figure out the whole celebrity thing. Why has this hit so hard? Honestly, first and foremost, it’s because of the space he occupied in Hollywood, as a genuine talent who, like so many other alumni from The Wire, went insufficiently recognized, let’s say. Bereft of leading parts simply not written for middle-aged Black men, Reddick didn’t discriminate with roles, playing in the genre sandbox (Fringe, The Guest) and even video games (Destiny, Horizon).

That’s a shortcut to my heart, and as a result, he’s played characters who are easy to appreciate. I feel very similarly about character actors like Shea Wigham and Garret Dillahunt, where you’re like, “Oh, this guy. I love this guy!” Producers maybe find them too specific, too niche, but whatever difficulties Reddick may have had in his career, he’s certainly made the most of it.

And it’s crazy — even patronizing — because he is a successful actor who’s been in some of the biggest movies and TV shows ever, but I still feel that desire to tell him, “Man, you did well.” He brings a gravitas to every role, no matter how small or silly, like playing the many clones of Albert Wesker in the Netflix Resident Evil show — which he crushed, by the way.

As the one good cop in The Wire, Reddick had some of the best, no-nonsense lines that spoke to the show’s ethos, like: “You’d rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel,” though my favorite might just be: “But I mostly go by ‘Lieutenant.'”

I was overjoyed that Charon got into the action in John Wick: Chapter 3, but having John Wick: Chapter 4 as your Enter the Dragon is a hell of a final note. And all the more appropriate, because Chapter 4 isn’t his last project — not even close. He’s in the new Percy Jackson show, a Hellboy video game — as Hellboy — the White Men Can’t Jump remake, and of course, Ballerina.

At 60, he was far too young, and while it may be selfish to say we’ve been robbed of his talents, his overstuffed filmography suggests he was passionate and generous about his craft. But not overserious. This is yet another role that always comes back to me in some form or another:

You will be missed.


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