When Lance Reddick died unexpectedly Friday morning at the age of 60, the world lost one of its greatest film and television stars. The fact that he passed away just days before he was set to return to the big screen in the highly anticipated “John Wick: Chapter 4” only added to the sense of tragedy. But while his acting career was cut short, Reddick left an incredible body of work that’s always worth revisiting.
To many TV fans, Reddick will always be Cedric Daniels from The Wire. In a career-defining performance, Reddick played one of the few voices of principled morality on a show that took every opportunity to reveal just how corruptible everyone in Baltimore seems. As a police officer, he rose through the ranks despite his steadfast refusal to advance his career by making dodgy deals, serving as a control group that made everyone else’s corruption more glaring. As David Simon’s sprawling masterpiece shifted its focus to a different part of Baltimore each season, Reddick was one of the constants that allowed it to anchor itself in an overarching narrative.
However, Reddick’s filmography encompasses much more than “The Wire.” Throughout his decades-long career, Reddick has seamlessly transitioned between film and television roles, making a big impact in nearly every project he’s appeared in. In his post-“Wire” career, Reddick has appeared in everything from network procedurals to prestige cable dramas. in the niche of independent films and massive blockbusters. From small but pivotal roles in “Oz” and “Lost” to late-breaking hits in “Corporate,” “Resident Evil” and “John Wick,” Reddick brought his charm and famously meticulous work ethic to everything. touched him. The actor was always welcome on the screen until his last days.
As Reddick’s peers in Hollywood — and film and TV fans around the world — mourn his passing, we’ve rounded up the best roles from his 25-year career. This list is not all-inclusive, but includes the performances that best capture the essence of Reddick as a performer.
With editorial contributions by Steve Greene and Sarah Shachat.
“The Wire” looked at the city of Baltimore through a famously wide lens. It spanned everyone from cops and drug dealers to dock workers and journalists as David Simon shifted perspective each season to focus more on systemic corruption. But for all the (well-deserved) praise the series receives for its sprawling approach, it remains in the same zeitgeist as any hit show: our emotional investment in its main characters. Simon and his writers knew when to pivot, but they were also smart enough to build the show around a reliable core ensemble to keep us invested. Reddick’s Cedric Daniels was an essential part of that core. His performance as a cop determined to do the right thing provided a heartbreaking contrast to the show’s nefarious businessmen. Reddick was the perfect actor to play Daniels, despite his unwavering moral compass, he embodied the character with an awareness of how things really work. His steadfast refusal to stoop to the level of his peers served as proof that good people can be found in the darkest of places, while his character’s end illustrated the tragic idea that a good person is often rendered powerless by a system that has other plans. Reddick’s performance embodied the idea that evil always makes its way into our world—sometimes all we can do is deny ourselves as vessels for it. — CZ
Reddick was an actor who used his voice as an instrument. His most memorable lines, whether in the service of menace or wit, sounded like solos that could be transposed to a sheet of music. As Christian DeVille, the all-seeing CEO of an Amazon-like superconglomerate, he paired that gift with the ability to break out of the straight man niche he seemed perfect in his own way. “Corporate” gave him plenty of opportunities to match that smooth baritone with an extra sneer or chuckle (or, in one episode, to sing a few bars of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” or play an office party voice. ). Reddick was a man who knew exactly how to turn up the dial to make his characters mysterious, but he was also at home playing someone you could love to watch and love to hate in equal measure. On “Corporate,” as in all his screen stints, his mere presence was its own special effect. He could stare at you until you slouched and then smile to make you feel at home. To make it all come across, even for a character meant to be the cartoonish embodiment of evil, was comedic lightning in a bottle, and Reddick is at his most virtuoso. – SG
Ambiguity can sometimes be a “lost’s” worst nightmare, especially when it comes to the forces that have been on one side or the other of the cosmic battle for control of the Island. But no one sold it better than Lance Reddick than Matthew Abaddon. Who is Matthew Abaddon? He is the fear in your stomach that something is inevitable. Reddick knows him calmly, whether he’s appearing as a hospital nurse or a lawyer for Oceanic Airlines to try to influence our lunatics to be what the Island needs. But he plays Abaddon as much more than a supernatural specter working for The Man in Black and/or Charles Widmore (again, lots of ambiguity around the shop in seasons 4 and 5). Reddick’s extreme and intuitive control over his voice and gaze make Abaddon both sympathetic and mean in the same breath. It gives you the foreboding that good and bad end up in the same place, and maybe he will take you there too. Abaddon only appears in four episodes of the series, but Reddick makes him one of the most memorable antagonists this side of the Smoke Monster. – SS
Keanu Reeves is the face of “John Wick,” but loyal fans of the show know that he’s far from the only reason they love the show so much (it’s not “Mission: Impossible!”). From the beginning, the Derek Kolstad-created franchise captivated viewers with its unique mythology, centered around a shockingly civilized criminal underworld that gathers in an underground hotel. Colorful supporting characters like Ian McShane’s Winston and John Leguziamo’s Aurelio add much-needed texture to revenge stories, and few are more valuable than Reddick’s Charon. His role as the porter of The Continental lends a chillingly calm presence that contributes greatly to the series’ unique tone. It’s hard to imagine many actors better embodying a character who is clearly disturbed, but hides it just enough to convince a bunch of assassins that he’s normal. — CZ
“One Night in Miami”
Regina Hall’s directorial debut is a period drama bursting with life, documenting a legendary night on the town between four famous friends that quickly gives way to the racial tensions roiling America in the 1960s. The film is ostensibly about Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Malcom X celebrating a major boxing victory together, but ultimately explores the unique pressures that come from being a black celebrity who entertains a white audience despite being practically they are not welcome. any other side of society. The film explores why so many black men in these positions are drawn to the Nation of Islam, and Reddick helps drive the point home with a key role as brother Kareem, Malcom X’s bodyguard who also happens to be the Nation of Islam. a spiritual counselor who prompts you to reconnect with your faith. — CZ
After his memorable arc on “Lost,” Reddick continued to collaborate with JJ Abrams on the prolific producer’s next series. “Fringe” took a familiar procedural format and gave it a supernatural twist, telling the story of a new FBI division that uses “fringe science” to solve occult mysteries. Reddick took on his well-crafted “hot cop” persona to play Phillip Broyles, a Homeland Security agent who oversees the department. Reddick’s ability to turn to a more traditional network drama after the success of “The Wire” is just another example of the versatility that has made him a hit in Hollywood. While the series was never a ratings hit during its original run, it has gradually become a cult favorite and isn’t likely to be forgotten anytime soon. — CZ
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