Lance Reddick, a defining presence on the big and small screen in the John Wick movies and the seminal HBO series The Wire, died on Friday of natural causes. He was 60.
"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss of our beloved friend and colleague Lance Reddick," John Wick star Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski said in a joint statement. "He was the consummate professional and a joy to work with. Our love and prayers are with his wife Stephanie, his children, family and friends. We dedicate the film to his loving memory. We will miss him dearly."
Born on June 7, 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland, Reddick began taking piano lessons at an early age with dreams of becoming a classic music composer. He studied at the prestigious Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, though he left before graduating to pursue a career as a musician. "I always knew I had a thing when it came to acting but never took it seriously. I just thought people who wanted to be actors were silly," he said in a 2013 interview.
While pursuing rock stardom, "I found myself working three jobs, seven days a week," Reddick told Vestal Magazine. "One year into this, I had a severe back injury that left me laid up and seriously re-evaluating my life. In a desperate attempt to think outside the box, I thought I’d give acting a try."
On a lark, he applied to the Yale School of Drama at age 29 and was accepted. After graduating, he found his first roles on '90s television series like New York Undercover, The Nanny, and The Corner, the HBO limited series based on David Simon's nonfiction book. Reddick broke out on HBO's Oz playing Detective Johnny Basil before reuniting with Simon for the role that would become one of the most significant of his career: Baltimore Police Department Lieutenant Cedric Daniels on The Wire, on which Reddick starred for five seasons. He would also have major roles on the series Fringe and Bosch.
Reddick made his film debut in 1998 in Alfonso Cuarón's Great Expectations, co-starring as Anton Le Farge opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. His movie career would not blossom until decades later, when he was cast in 2014's John Wick, as Charon, concierge at the Continental Hotel frequented by the titular hitman (played by Reeves). He reprised the role in all four installments of the franchise, including in the forthcoming John Wick: Chapter 4, and will also appear in the spinoff, The Ballerina, starring Ana de Armas.
"The mild-mannered guy who comes out of retirement and returns to his old universe had been done so many times, but this was original and fresh and fantastic," Reddick told Vulture of what drew him to John Wick. "And the opportunity to play this quintessential gentleman with an African accent was exciting to me. I found out later that the role was kind of written for me. I assumed it was because I did an accent in Oz, or maybe screenwriter Derek Kolstad was a fan of The Wire."
His big screen projects also included Angel Has Fallen (2019), Sylvie's Love (2020), the Oscar-nominated One Night in Miami... (2020), and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). His upcoming films include William Friedkin's The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, John Ridley's Shirley Chisholm biopic, and the White Men Can't Jump remake, in addition to John Wick: Chapter 4, which opens in theaters on March 24.
"The world of Wick would not be what it is without Lance Reddick and the unparalleled depth he brought to Charon's humanity and unflappable charisma. Lance leaves behind an indelible legacy and hugely impressive body of work, but we will remember him as our lovely, joyful friend and Concierge," Lionsgate, the studio behind the franchise, said in a statement. "We're stunned and heartbroken, and our deepest condolences go to his beloved family and his fans all around the world."
Reddick is survived by his wife, Stephanie, and his children, Yvonne and Christopher.