Sometimes a performer comes along who is so incredibly prolific, you can’t remember when you first found their work. They’ve always been there. This it seems, is the case with Lance Reddick. A dynamic and formidable character actor, Reddick passed away today leaving a lengthy filmography playing often ambiguous and fascinating authority figures. More importantly, though, he leaves a legacy of love and respect amongst not only his fans but also the industry.
A talented and versatile actor, Reddick jumped easily between the mediums. A look over his filmography shows a performer who knew no bounds. His television work is prolific. Most tributes rightly tout his work on The Wire. The HBO drama ran between 2002 and 2008 and is widely considered one of the greatest television series of all time.
Interestingly, The Wire was a familiar one for Reddick. According to his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, the actor grew up in Baltimore, the setting for the police procedural dissecting the drug trade’s complicated enforcement.
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According to the Los Angeles Times, Reddick developed an early love of music. According to the Associated Press, he studied classical composition and piano at the conservatory level in Baltimore and New York. He eventually moved on to Yale Drama School where he fell in love with acting. His Associated Press obituary quotes a 2009 interview he gave to the Los Angeles Times:
I’m an artist at heart…. When I went to drama school, I knew I was at least as talented as the 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… and to be noticed.
His earliest roles came on television in the late 1990s ranging from The Nanny and The West Wing to Oz before eventually scoring his breakout on The Wire.
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In fact, it is this versatility which defines Reddick’s career. While he is most often associated with playing “stuffy” authority figures, he easily crosses genres.
Many will remember his work on the long-running Fox mystery series Fringe. He co-starred in the supernatural drama opposite Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble. Through, genre fans could just as easily recognize him thanks to his work on shows like Lost and American Horror Story, or even through his voice work on video games like Destiny.
Most recently though, Reddick filled his time on the big screen. He played a regular (and vital) role in every installment of the “John Wick” franchise. In the past two years alone, he appeared in popular, though polar-opposite works like One Night in Miami and Godzilla vs. Kong.
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Throughout his almost thirty-year acting career, Reddick earned love and respect from not only his fans but also his fellow artists. Wendell Pierce, Reddick’s co-star on The Wire called the actor “A man of great strength and grace.” Meanwhile, David Simon, the show’s creator called Reddick, “A consummate professional, devoted collaborator, a lovely and gentle man (and a) loyal friend.” Ian McShane, who worked with Reddick in the John Wick films said, “Lance was a wonderful human being and a wonderful colleague. My deepest condolences, peace and love to his wife, Stephanie, and all his family.”
Throughout his time in the industry, Lance Reddick crafted a formidable career. While he will be remembered as a character actor, he shows a character actor doesn’t have to be typecast. He approached his work with a fearless versatility endearing himself to those he met and influencing countless others.
Fans can next see Reddick on the big screen when John Wick: Chapter 4, premieres on March 24, 2023. IMDB shows his upcoming filmography packed with projects in various stages of production. Reddick is credited in works ranging from the John Wick spin-off Ballerina to a remake of White Men Can’t Jump hitting theaters in May.
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