Lance Reddick, a Baltimore native best known locally for his role as Cedric Daniels on HBO’s “The Wire,” died Friday morning. He was 60.
Reddick died “suddenly” at his Los Angeles home, his publicist Mia Hansen said in a statement to The Banner, attributing his death to natural causes.
In a statement posted Saturday, Reddick’s wife Stephanie thanked fans for their support.
“I see your messages and can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have them,” she said.
She also said she appreciated the thousands of players of the “Destiny” video game series who paid tribute to her husband in the game. For years, Lance Reddick voiced the character of Commander Zavala.
Stephanie Reddick directed donations in Lance’s memory to MOMCares, a Baltimore charity providing services for high-risk Black mothers.
Lance Reddick appeared in all five seasons of “The Wire” as Daniels, the leader of a major crimes unit who rises up the ranks of the Baltimore Police Department and becomes increasingly disenchanted with the agency’s reliance on “juking the stats.” In addition to the drug trade, the critically acclaimed series, which aired from 2002–2008, examined the decline and dysfunction within the port, city government, the school system, and big urban newspapers.
During a 2012 interview on the CBC, Reddick recalled how, when he started shooting for the series, he didn’t think about how it was unusual to be part of a predominantly Black cast.
“I was thinking more that, ‘This is one of the best things that’s ever been on television, and I know it,’” he told host George Stroumboulopoulos.
On Twitter, “Wire” co-star Wendell Pierce, who played detective William “Bunk” Moreland, called Reddick a “man of great strength and grace.”
“As talented a musician as he was an actor. The epitome of class. An sudden unexpected sharp painful grief for our artistic family,” Pierce tweeted. “An unimaginable suffering for his personal family and loved ones. Godspeed my friend. You made your mark here. RIP.”
David Simon, the show’s creator, said the loss of Reddick “is gutting.”
“Consummate professional, devoted collaborator, lovely and gentle man, loyal friend. Could go on, but no, I can’t go on,” he tweeted, later adding Reddick was gone “way, way, way too soon.”
Reddick graduated from the Friends School of Baltimore, a private Quaker school in Wyndhurst, in 1980.
While growing up in the city, Reddick wanted to be a musician, and dropped out of university to go to the prestigious Eastman School of Music to study classical composition and play piano. He got married and had his daughter at a young age, all while struggling as a musician, he told The Guardian in 2010.
”I was working four jobs seven days a week,” Reddick told the newspaper. “I was a singing waiter on these lunch and dinner cruises. I was an artists’ model and I worked delivering newspapers and pizzas. I started acting because I thought it would help my music career. At that point I was just trying to support my family. Acting was a fluke. I had acted in college, but it was never anything I took seriously.”
He later applied to Yale’s drama school, never thinking he would get in, but he did.
After graduating, Reddick and his family moved to New York and he landed guest or recurring roles “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He also appeared in several movies, including “I Dreamed of Africa,” “The Siege” and “Great Expectations.” It was on Season Four of “Oz,” playing a doomed undercover officer sent to prison who becomes an addict, that Reddick had a career breakthrough.
“I was never interested in television. I always saw it as a means to an end. Like so many actors, I was only interested in doing theater and film. But ‘Oz’ changed television. It was the beginning of HBO’s reign on quality, edgy, artistic stuff. Stuff that harkens back to great cinema of the ’60s and ’70s,” he told the Associated Press in 2011.
“When the opportunity for ‘Oz’ came up, I jumped. And 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.”
Even after finding success on the small screen, Reddick still performed music. His first album, the jazzy “Contemplations and Remembrances,” came out in 2011.
Reddick was most recently in Netflix’s “Resident Evil,” and Amazon Prime’s long-running police drama, “Bosch.”
He earned a SAG Award nomination in 2021 as part of the ensemble for Regina King’s film “One Night in Miami.” Reddick played recurring roles on “Intelligence” and “American Horror Story.”
His upcoming projects include 20th Century’s remake of “White Men Can’t Jump”; “Shirley,” Netflix’s biopic of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; and “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.” Reddick starred in the “John Wick” franchise and was slated to appear in the spinoff “Ballerina.”
Although he lived in California, Reddick still showed love for his hometown.
In a 2020 Funny or Die video, Reddick spoke with ABC’s “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen, a fellow Baltimore native, about being from the city.
Bowen was excited to talk with a fellow Baltimorean.
The pair joked about how no one could do a Baltimore accent, but Reddick said he always did one.
”I did a West Baltimore accent, which I would make it stronger when I got angry because that’s where all my dad’s family’s from,” Reddick said.
Though his accent seemed to wane after living away from the city, Reddick did his best attempt by imitating his cousin and saying, “Don’t eat eggs and get on the bus.”
That same year, he participated in a video interview for the Friends School’s alumni Facebook page wearing a T-shirt that said, “Proud to be Baltimore.”
He also didn’t get sick of talking about his role in “The Wire.”
“You know, it’s an iconic piece of history,” he told GQ in 2019, “and I feel very fortunate and proud of the work we did with that.”
Associated Press reporter Mark Kennedy contributed to this report.