Actor Lance Reddick, police chief on ‘The Wire,’ dead at age 60

March 18, 2023 - 12:34 PM
Actor Lance Reddick arrives at the 46th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 6, 2015. (Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn)

 Actor Lance Reddick, best known for his commanding presence as a no-nonsense police chief on the acclaimed television drama “The Wire” and for his supporting work in the “John Wick” action-film series, died on Friday at age 60, his publicist said.

Reddick died suddenly on Friday morning of natural causes, according to a statement issued by the publicist, Mia Hansen. No further details about the circumstances of his death were immediately disclosed.

Celebrity news website, citing law enforcement sources, reported the performer had been found dead at his home in the Studio City district of Los Angeles at around 9:30 a.m.

His death came just days before the planned March 24 release of the fourth installment in the “John Wick” franchise, in which Reddick reprised his role as a hotel manager named Charon, an ally of the title character, a professional assassin forced out of retirement, played by Keanu Reeves.

Reddick scored his first major screen role as police chief Cedric Daniels on the HBO crime drama “The Wire,” set in his hometown of Baltimore. The show, which aired for five seasons beginning in 2002, was widely hailed as one of television’s greatest dramas for its gritty portrait of urban struggle as told from the perspective of police, narcotics dealers and the people caught between them.

Tall, with a shaved head and a flair for portraying low-key but imposing authority figures, Reddick later played a similar role as a big-city police chief on the Los Angeles-based cop drama “Bosch,” a show from the streaming service Amazon Prime.

He also appeared in a pair of shows co-created by J.J. Abrams, starting with season four of the ABC series “Lost”. That character was soon killed off, making way for Reddick to join the cast of “Fringe,” a Fox network series in which he played the head of an FBI unit investigating the paranormal.

Other television credits include the HBO prison series, “Oz” as undercover police detective Johnny Basil, the Emmy-winning FX anthology series “American Horror Story” playing a Voodoo master named Papa Legba, and the forthcoming Disney+ series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” as the Greek god Zeus.

Motion picture work beyond “John Wick” included appearances in such thrillers as “Angel has Fallen,” “Monster Party” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” He was also known to video game enthusiasts as the voice of the character Commander Zavala in the “Destiny” brand shooter franchise.

A classically trained pianist, Reddick attended the Peabody Preparatory Institute to study music, worked in the Walden School’s summer music theory and composition program, and eventually obtained a bachelor’s degree in classical composition from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.

He released a jazz album, “Contemplations and Remembrances” in 2007.

A photograph of Reddick posted on his Instagram account the day before his death showed the smiling actor, seated on a sofa in his living room surrounded by four pet dogs.

Fellow actor Wendell Pierce paid tribute his “Wire” co-star on Twitter, calling Reddick a “man of great strength and grace” and the “epitome of class”.

“You made your mark here. RIP,” Pierce said.

Reddick is survived by his wife, Stephanie, whom he married in 2011, and the couple’s son and daughter.

—Reporting by Danielle Broadway in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Gorman, Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast