Lance Reddick, who died Friday at the age of 60, had an evocative screen presence, and not just because he had a penchant for playing great law enforcement characters.
His affecting voice and harsh baritone imbued his characters with gravitas and authority, but he also seemed to enjoy playing against the very gritty types for which he was known. He specialized in mystery men, adding mystery to his characters’ motivations in roles both brief, such as a creepy guest appearance in “Lost,” and more extensive, as the morally gray police chiefs in “The Wire,” “Bosch,” and “Vampire.”
Here are some highlights of Reddick’s career and how to watch them.
Riddick’s breakthrough role came in 2002 with the role of Cedric Daniels, who kicked off the critically acclaimed HBO series as a principled but ambitious lieutenant in the Baltimore Police Department’s narcotics unit.
According to “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire” by Jonathan Abrams, Riddick was almost cast as addict-turned-Detective Bubbles because he looked more like the person the character was based on – more than Andre Royo, who eventually won the part. Reddick previously played a junkie on “The Corner” and “Oz,” and Bubbles may have set him down an entirely different path – away from the law enforcement and power roles he’s begun to accumulate.
He worked hard to embody Daniels, keeping track of a real drug lieutenant to learn the ropes and use him Boxing drills To make Daniels as physically imposing as possible. Reddick’s portrayal has evolved over the show’s five seasons, but it’s always been quiet yet intense and totally distinct.
Most of the stars of Fox’s hit sci-fi drama “Fringe” have played multiple roles in multiple universes, creating several versions of both primary and alternate characters. Riddick played Special Agent Philip Broyles in one universe and Colonel Broyles in the other. (In Season 3, the actor had the surreal assignment of playing Agent Broyles as he meets the corpse of Colonel Broyles.)
This was another five-season run for Riddick, who appeared in JJ Abrams’ previous series, “Lost.” This time around, Riddick had to show off his musical ability (episode “Brown Betty”), getting rather silly while his character bog down acid (“lysergic acid diethylamide”) and the Twizzlers’ meaning across multiple loops. And do you think Riddick was always so serious?
Reddick has impersonated his stoic intensity in several comedic roles – highlights include the misfit toy store manager in funny or die fee; guest place inIt’s always sunny in Philadelphiain which he struggles to control his temper; and appears on Eric Andre A talk show for adults about swimming Which started out weird and got even weirder. Andre looked just as confused as the audience when Riddick punched the office and left, before returning later to dramatically announce that he wished he was Levar Burton.
This was a one-off, though. To see Reddick truly set free, watch him bring to full effect his terrifying rep in the Comedy Central satirical “Corporate” as a psychopathic boss with a spiritually absurd name: Christian DeVille. The character does not believe in the existence of God, but he certainly believes in making money in his name.
After performing back-to-back roles in “The Wire” and “Fringe”, Reddick was reluctant to play another senior cop. But Irvin Irving in Amazon’s crime drama “Bosch” isn’t just another cop – the LAPD chief is a political animal with a love for power games.
Michael Connelly, whose novels are the basis of the series, chirp that Reddick was able to deepen a character who was, by the author’s own admission, “tender in the books,” making him “Machiavellian, intriguing, even sympathetic.” Irving is constantly disaffected and angry with Bosch (Titus Welliver), a detective who refuses to play by the rules — his disdain for the Boss is evident in his attitude, in his voice, and in everything he does. But thanks to Reddick, he always has your attention.
Watch it on Amazon Prime Video
Reddick’s most popular movie role came late in his career: Charon, the dapper concierge at the Continental Hotel in the “John Wick” movie franchise.
As an employee of a Manhattan establishment that catered to traveling assassins, Sharon—named after Hades’ ferry in Greek mythology—was the soul of the discreet. But he was particularly sympathetic to the needs of one guest in particular: the very serious John Wick (Keanu Reeves).
Over the course of the three films, Sharon moves in from behind the concierge desk to get in on the action. (If you need someone to help load a gun, he’s the guy for you.) And the fourth, “John Wick: Chapter 4,” hits theaters next week.
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