Lance Reddick, actor in police dramas ‘The Wire’ and ‘Bosch,’ dies at 60

Lance Reddick, an actor who gave virility and vulnerability to police commander roles in the acclaimed dramas “The Wire” and “Bosch” and was the resourceful concierge in the “John Wick” action franchise, died March 17 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 60.

James Hornstein, his lawyer and friend, confirmed the death but said he did not know the cause.

Mr. Reddick, a classically trained pianist who attended Yale University’s School of Drama, often built his performances in police dramas around a drill-sergeant demeanor — with a gleaming scalp, gravelly baritone voice and ramrod bearing. Yet behind the tough facade, his characters were often gripped by inner turmoil that only bubbled to the surface in private.

As the by-the-book Lt. Cedric Daniels on “The Wire,” set in Mr. Reddick’s native Baltimore, and as the stone-faced Los Angeles Chief Irvin Irving in “Bosch,” his characters faced moral and personal crossroads, as well as the pull of their own ambitions, that became central to the plots. His struggles served, too, as metaphors for the complexities and compromises of big-city policing and politics.

Mr. Reddick also starred in science fiction series, as special agent Phillip Broyles in the Fox show “Fringe” (2008-2013) and the dapper Matthew Abaddon on ABC’s “Lost,” (2004-2010), a story of plane crash survivors laced with flashbacks and supernatural undercurrents.

In the “John Wick” movies, he was the Continental Hotel’s unflappable concierge Charon, who offers the former hit man Wick (Keanu Reeves) various services, such as taking care of his dog.

His breakthrough role came on the fourth season of “Oz,” an HBO jailhouse drama that ran from 1997 to 2003, in which he played an undercover officer sent to prison.

Mr. Reddick said he did not intend to become an actor. His initial aspiration was to become a classical composer, studying at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music but leaving in his final year. “I thought I really wanted to be a rock star,” he told Variety, saying he was inspired by the former Police frontman Sting in his desire to somehow bridge the influences of jazz and rock.

“I started acting, almost on a whim, to help my music career,” he said.

Mr. Reddick, then living in Boston, landed some roles in local theater as he worked at other jobs — including artist model and newspaper deliveryman — hoping to get a break in the music scene. “I really started acting because I was floundering and I thought it would help my music career, and it took over my life,” he told the Boston Herald in 2009.

At 29, he applied to Yale’s renowned drama school. He was surprised at the acceptance — a first-year student more than a decade older than some fellow freshmen but with less acting experience than many. One his classmates was future Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti, who Mr. Reddick said raised the bar for everyone.

“I knew I was at least as talented as other students,” Mr. Reddick told the Los Angeles Times in 2009, “but because I was a Black man and I wasn’t pretty, I knew I would have to work my butt off to be the best that I would be, and to be noticed.”

Lance Solomon Reddick was born June 7, 1962, in Baltimore, where his mother taught music in the public schools. His father became a lawyer after a career as an English and social studies teacher.

Mr. Reddick’s boyhood talent on the piano earned him a spot at what is now Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. After graduating from Yale’s School of Drama in 1994, Mr. Reddick, his wife and young daughter moved to New York.

His first role was as an understudy to Jeffrey Wright in Tony Kushner’s Tony Award-winning play “Angels in America.” In 1995 at the Manhattan Theatre Club, he portrayed an enigmatic waiter in “After-Play,” a drama by Anne Meara about two couples after attending the theater. He then landed small parts on television in shows including “The Nanny” and “The West Wing.”

Mr. Reddick played a crack addict in the HBO miniseries “The Corner” (2000). In his auditions for “The Wire,” Mr. Reddick said he tried out for parts including the drug-addled police informant Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins (a part given to Andre Royo). With the role of Lt. Daniels, Mr. Reddick said the challenge was to show the tensions of being outwardly in control but unraveling inside.

“I kept him tight,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “He was very self-contained and analytical, but he also had a lot of rage.” The HBO series, which ran from 2002 to 2008, was widely praised for its gritty explorations of the overlap between the worlds of crime and law enforcement.

In “Bosch,” based on the novels of Michael Connelly, Mr. Reddick’s musical talents were on display — his character finds an outlet from the daily pressures by playing the piano at home in the evening. In 2010, Mr. Reddick released an album of his own works, “Contemplations & Remembrances.”

His first marriage, to Suzanne Louis, ended in divorce. In 2011, he married Stephanie Day. In addition to his wife, survivors include two children from his first marriage.

He said he almost hesitated to take on “another ‘top cop’ character” when offered the role of the Secret Service director in “Angel Has Fallen” (2019), the third installment of the “Olympus Has Fallen” series. He said he changed his mind about the part after talking to former Secret Service agents.

“This was a different animal,” he said. “One of the things that was amazing to me was understanding how stressful it is because you have to be on all the time.”

Emily Langer contributed to this report.

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