Veteran actor Lance Reddick -– who passed away on March 17, 2023 -– made a huge impact on whatever project he was a part of, though he rarely got the recognition he deserved. Born in Baltimore in 1962, Reddick had long been a staple on network television, appearing in supporting roles in shows such as “Law and Order: SVU,” “CSI: Miami,” and “Fringe.” Reddick was perhaps best well-known for his role in HBO’s “The Wire,” where his stalwart presence was essential.
Reddick made his mark in the film world as well, finding success in the sci-fi and action realms, notably the “John Wick” series. As BJ Colangelo noted, Reddick “was every genre project’s secret weapon.” He possessed the ability to be quietly badass in every role, never taking up more space than he needed to but always leaving a mark on every scene. Though often cast as authority figures — cops, FBI agents, and sometimes a villain -– he always brought nuance and humanity to these figures. Reddick could take a barely there role and give it depth, regardless of if the character was central or secondary to the plot.
In addition to his roles on-screen, Reddick was also a prolific voice actor, appearing in more than a dozen video games and several animated series. To honor Reddick’s formidable legacy, here’s a look back at 12 of his best film and television roles.
Johnny Basil In Oz
Though he had been working steadily for several years beforehand, Lance Reddick’s first big break arrived in the form of the HBO series “Oz,” which premiered in 1997. Though often forgotten today, “Oz” was the first one-hour series produced by HBO and in many ways marked the start of the so-called “prestige” television era. The show takes place at a prison in New York –- nicknamed “Oz” -– where the inmates are constantly at war with one another. Reddick joined the show in Season 4, playing Johnny Basil, a detective who goes undercover in Oz in order to stop the drug trade.
On the surface, Detective Basil looks a lot like some of the other characters Reddick played, but per usual, there’s much more than meets the eye. When we first meet him, Basil is extremely committed to the job and will do anything to achieve his directive. He’s intelligent, strategic, and cool under pressure. But the conditions at Oz eventually get to Basil and he becomes addicted to heroin, leading to a tragic fall from grace. Reddick imbues Basil’s entire arc with brilliant poise, showing us the character’s humanity during both his best and his worst moments. It’s no wonder “Oz” finally put Reddick on people’s radar. It remains some of his best work.
Cedric Daniels In The Wire
Reddick’s impressive performance on “Oz” led to his best-known role: Cedric Daniels on another HBO show, “The Wire.” Though Reddick was initially hesitant to spend too much time on television, both “Oz” and “The Wire” changed his perspective. “When I read the pilot for ‘The Wire,’ as a guy that never wanted to be on television, I realized I had to be on this show,” he told the Associated Press.
“The Wire” is often considered one of the greatest police dramas of all time, and Reddick played a key role. When we first meet him, Cedric Daniels is a lieutenant in the Baltimore Police Department. Though much of “The Wire” details the blatant corruption that runs through the BPD, Daniels stands on his own as one of the few figures who refuses to abide by political agendas. He is level-headed, fair, and reliable, and his atypical stability makes him an important -– and at times tragic –- character.
Daniels’ cool demeanor plays to Reddick’s strengths as an actor, but he never comes off as a caricature of a so-called good cop. Complemented by the show’s gritty nature, Reddick’s work on “The Wire” ranks among the most down-to-Earth performances of his career, yet he maintained that indomitable gravitas that added so much to each and every one of his roles.
Matthew Abaddon In Lost
Reddick only appeared in four episodes of “Lost,” but his character was nonetheless an essential part of the series. It was a running theme that defined much of Reddick’s career. Reddick portrayed Matthew Abaddon, and the true nature of his role remained a mystery for much of the series. He appeared somewhat villainous in nature, but his enigmatic poise was also alluring.
According to “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof, what made Reddick perfect for the part was that “he’s a very intensive actor who also has this incredible charisma,” Lindelof told the Los Angeles Times. Part of what made Reddick such a compelling performer was that he wasn’t showy and he always brought something nuanced to the table. Executive producer Carlton Cuse chimed in to add his own praise of Reddick, noting that “what he does incredibly well is deliver exposition, and the audience isn’t aware of it. That’s an incredibly rare skill to find in an actor.”
There aren’t many actors who could appear in only four episodes of a show and still be remembered fondly by audiences. Reddick had the kind of talent.
Phillip Broyles In Fringe
Reddick’s role in the acclaimed Fox series “Fringe” feels like it was completely tailored to him as an actor, and yet, per usual, he brought so much more to the character than what was on the page. Created by “Lost” co-showrunner J.J. Abrams, “Fringe” was a sci-fi drama that centered on the FBI’s Fringe Division, which tackled unexplainable events and phenomena. Reddick played Phillip Broyles, the head of Fringe Division, who oversaw Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and her associates Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Walter Bishop (John Noble).
For much of the series, we know very little about Broyles. At one point we learn that Broyles once had a family, but he keeps things very private. (Though we do see another side of Broyles –- literally -– when Olivia travels to the alternate universe.) Despite the lack of information about Broyles’ personal life, he’s an intriguing character with more of an emotional investment in his work than he lets on. While his demeanor is generally quite serious, there’s occasionally an amused twinkle in his eye that lets us know there are feelings underneath that cool exterior.
It’s obvious, looking both at his full body of work and his specific performance in the role, that Reddick was the ideal man for the job. As “Fringe” executive producer Jeff Pinker said of Reddick’s work, “We needed someone in that part who had strength, who looked like they were holding their cards close to the vest. But he also has a deep emotional wellspring. He’s generous.”
Major Carver In The Guest
Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s 2014 film “The Guest” is a chilling thriller where not everything is as it seems. The Peterson family is grieving the loss of their son, Caleb, in Afghanistan, when they receive a visit from David Collins (Dan Stevens), a man who claims he was Caleb’s best friend from the military. After a series of violent events occur, the family begins to suspect David might not be who he says he is.
Reddick plays Major Carver, the head of a private paramilitary organization. Only Carver knows the truth about David, and he also appears to be the only one who might be able to stop him. We know next to nothing about Major Carver as a person, but his backstory is irrelevant here. What Reddick brings to the role is an undeniable sense of badassery. When Carver and his team come in with guns blazing, it’s hard not to cheer for the guy, even if you’re not quite sure who you should be rooting for at this point. That’s just the kind of actor Reddick was –- always there to bring the quiet power, no matter the circumstances.
Charon In The John Wick Series
Lance Reddick’s role in the “John Wick” series epitomized what made him such an indispensable actor. Reddick played Charon, the concierge at the Continental Hotel, an establishment that acts as neutral ground for criminals. We know very little about Charon apart from the fact that he is very loyal to his employer, Winston (Ian McShane), and seems to respect John (Keanu Reeves) a great deal. Though Charon is extremely dedicated to enforcing the rules of the hotel, he takes it upon himself to take care of John’s beloved dog despite the fact that the hotel offers no such accommodations.
Charon was Reddick’s most controlled, buttoned-up performance in a career full of similarly disciplined roles, but it was not without levity. Several moments in the films revealed a hint of a smile on Charon’s face, indicating that he may not have been as humorless as he seemed. Given that Reddick performed the role so perfectly, it’s no surprise that Charon was actually written for him specifically, as Reddick revealed in an interview with Vulture.
Reddick brought so much humble charisma to every project, and that seemed to carry over to his behind-the-scenes interactions with casts and crews. In fact, Reddick revealed that on Reeves’ own birthday, he actually came to visit Reddick on set because he wanted to spend time with him that night. In a statement to Variety following Reddick’s death, Reeves and director Chad Stahelski revealed that “John Wick: Chapter 4” is dedicated to Reddick.
Milo In Monster Party
As convincing as he was playing fundamentally good-hearted characters, Reddick was equally convincing when breathing life in to villains. In 2018’s “Monster Party,” he got a chance to show off the latter skill. The movie follows three friends, Casper (Sam Strike), Iris (Virginia Gardner), and Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall), who spend their time pulling off burglaries. They decide to attempt a high-stakes robbery of a mansion, but the residents there are much more dangerous than they could have imagined. Among them is Milo (Reddick), the leader of a group of recovering serial killers who are working to quell their killer instincts under his watchful guidance.
Reddick was eerily good as Milo, and his role in the film is much bigger -– literally and figuratively -– than we’ve seen from him in the past. Milo is certainly a villainous figure, but he displays a highly controlled sense of charm that makes him a compelling individual. Reddick has said that he saw Milo as something of a cult leader, whose ultimate goals were to maintain power and preserve his lavish lifestyle. In “Monster Party,” Reddick used his uncanny ability to portray characters with a fierce kind of self-control to great –- and terrifying -– effect. These characters may be addicts in recovery, but the self-serving Milo cares more about sustaining his control over others than he does about their well-being.
Papa Legba In American Horror Story
No stranger to playing dark-side characters, Reddick’s brief but impactful appearance in “American Horror Story” represented some of his most chilling work. Reddick played Papa Legba, a gatekeeper of the spirit world and a figure in the Haitian Voodoo religion. Papa Legba first appeared in Season 3, “Coven,” and figured in as an important part of Marie Laveau’s (Angela Bassett) backstory. Laveau once sold her soul to Papa Legba in exchange for immortality, and from then on was forced to deliver an annual human sacrifice to him. Papa Legba also appeared in two episodes of “Apocalypse,” which was Season 8 of the series.
Papa Legba is a frightening figure to behold, and Reddick all but disappeared into the ethereal role. His red eyes and his chalky white face paint certainly accounted for some of his eeriness, but Reddick’s calculated, mysterious performance did the rest. Papa Legba isn’t a typical villain, as his appearance in the show is all about maintaining balance. He is not unjust or overly cruel, and he always makes the terms of his deals with people like Marie Laveau abundantly clear. Though not a character you can ever truly “know” in any sentimental sense, his air of intrigue – and the way Reddick embodies such an intangible character – was so engaging to behold.
David Gentry In Angel Has Fallen
David Gentry in “Angel Has Fallen” was a quintessential Reddick role, and he played it to perfection. “Angel Has Fallen” was the third film in the “Has Fallen” series, following “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen.” Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent Mike Banning returned in the lead role, and Morgan Freeman took over from Aaron Eckhart as the President of the United States. Reddick co-starred as Gentry, the Secret Service Director who is about to retire and be replaced by Banning.
When Banning gets involved in an apparent coup and is accused of attempting to assassinate the president, Gentry comes to his aid and proves himself to be committed to justice rather than money or politics. Reddick was typically composed and stoic in the role, going about his duties with intense focus and determination. Reddick’s innate dignity and gravitas worked just as well here –- in a big Hollywood blockbuster -– as it did in his indie genre films or television procedurals, proving once again how monumental he was as an actor.
Christian DeVille On Corporate
Though mostly known for his dramatic fare, Reddick finally got a chance to display his comedic chops in the parodic dark comedy “Corporate,” which premiered in 2018. The Comedy Central series follows two employees –- Matt (Matt Ingebretson), and Jake (Jake Weisman), who also created the series –- at a multinational corporation called Hampton DeVille. Their boss is Reddick’s Christian DeVille, a tyrannical megalomaniac who demands everything from his employees.
Playing an authority figure may not have been new for Reddick, but the unique tone of the show -– darkly satirical -– certainly was. Reddick told IndieWire that DeVille may have been a powerful figure like some of his other roles, but the extent of power was something he hadn’t tackled before. “Part of what’s scary is when you watch yourself, so much of it feels absurd, but I mean, when you talk to people in corporate life, it’s like, ‘No, what’s scary about that s*** is that it’s f****** real,” he explained.
“Corporate” is a funny show, in theory, but Reddick’s character was probably its most disturbing element. DeVille’s absolute control and his dictatorial behavior also gave Reddick a lot of room to play, and his delightfully evil performance marks some of his finest work. “We’re very particular about what we’re using him for and try to give him the juiciest stuff on the show to do. Basically because he can do it,” Ingebretson, speaking to IndieWire, said of Reddick’s role.
Irvin Irving On Bosch
Every good protagonist needs a foil, and that’s exactly what Reddick personified on the Amazon series “Bosch.” Based on Michael Connelly’s series of novels, the show follows LAPD detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver), a cop with an aversion to following the rules. His boss is Chief of Police Irvin Irving (Reddick), a politically-minded man who is perpetually rankled by Bosch’s avoidance of proper procedure.
Playing another authoritative cop might have seemed like treading well-worn territory for Reddick, and he, too, was hesitant to take the role at first. “It’s a job that I almost didn’t do, I almost turned it down,” he told Express. “I didn’t want to play another commanding officer in law enforcement, but it ended up being one of the highlights of my career.” Indeed, unlike the righteous, straight-laced leaders he played in “The Wire” and “Fringe,” Irving was much more interested in maneuvering through the politics of the department and climbing up the ladder to gain more power for himself. Though something of an antagonist at times, Reddick ensured that Irving was never simply a villain.
As author Michael Connelly tweeted about the late actor, “He took a character who was paper-thin in the books and made Irvin Irving multi-dimensional, machiavellian, intriguing and even sympathetic.”
Albert Wesker In Resident Evil
After lending his voice to so many video games over the years, in 2022, Reddick got the chance to help shepherd “Resident Evil” to the small screen as a Netflix series. The show takes place in two different timelines following the outbreak of the T-Virus, which turns humans into zombies. Reddick played the iconic villain Albert Wesker, father to twin girls Jade (Ella Balinska and Tamara Smart) and Billie (Adeline Rudolph and Siena Agudong). In 2022, Albert is offered a job at Umbrella Corporation, where he once worked, and by 2036, when the second timeline unfolds, the majority of humankind has been obliterated.
Wesker is one of the most villainous characters in video game history, but Reddick puts a unique spin on the role. In this context, Albert is a family man who truly loves his daughters but also does some, shall we say, questionable things in the name of science. Though his dastardly deeds certainly aren’t canceled out by the love of his family, Reddick’s sensitive performance added another layer to the character that we hadn’t seen before. Rather than being totally diabolical, Reddick’s Albert is torn up inside about the decisions he has to make and the mysterious origins of his twin daughters. While the show itself wasn’t especially well-received and was canceled after a single season, Reddick’s tricky performance was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster adaptation.
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The post Lance Reddick’s 12 Best Movie and TV Show Roles appeared first on /Film.
/Film – Lance Reddick’s 12 Best Movie And TV Show Roles
Author: Kira Deshler
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March 19, 2023