Lance Reddick, who died on Friday at age 60, had an arresting screen presence, and not just because he had a tendency to play formidable law enforcement figures.
His commanding bearing and gruff baritone voice imbued his characters with gravitas and authority, but he also seemed to enjoy playing against the ultraserious types for which he was known. He specialized in men of mystery, adding ambiguity to his characters’ motives in roles both brief, like a creepy guest appearance on “Lost,” and more expansive, like his morally gray police chiefs in “The Wire,” “Bosch” and “Resident Evil.”
Here are some of Reddick’s career highlights and how to watch them.
Reddick’s breakthrough role came in 2002 with the role of Cedric Daniels, who began the critically acclaimed HBO series as a principled but ambitious lieutenant in the narcotics unit of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” by Jonathan Abrams, Reddick was almost cast as the addict-turned-informant Bubbles because he resembled the person whom the character was based on — more so than Andre Royo, who ultimately won the part. Reddick had previously played addicts in “The Corner” and “Oz,” and Bubbles might have set him on an entirely different typecasting trajectory — away from the law enforcement and authority figure roles he started accumulating.
He worked hard to flesh out Daniels, shadowing a real-life narcotics lieutenant to learn the ropes and using boxing workouts to make Daniels as physically imposing as possible. Reddick’s portrayal evolved over the show’s five seasons, but it was always calm yet intense and utterly distinctive.
Most stars of the fascinatingly loopy Fox sci-fi drama “Fringe” played multiple parts in multiple universes, creating several versions of primary and alternate characters. Reddick starred as Special Agent Phillip Broyles in one universe and Colonel Broyles in the other. (In the third season, the actor had the surreal task of playing Agent Broyles meeting the dead body of Colonel Broyles.)
This was another five-season run for Reddick, who had appeared in J.J. Abrams’s earlier series, “Lost.” This time, Reddick got to show off his musical ability (the episode “Brown Betty”), get rather silly while his character tripped acid (“Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”) and contemplate the meaning of Twizzlers across multiple episodes. And you thought Reddick was always so serious?
Reddick spoofed his own stoic severity in several comedic roles — highlights include an inappropriate toy store manager in a Funny or Die sketch; a guest spot in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” in which he struggles to control his temper; and an appearance on Eric André’s Adult Swim talk show that started strange and just got stranger. Andre seemed just as befuddled as the audience when Reddick punched the desk and left, before returning later to dramatically declare that he wished he were LeVar Burton.
These were one-offs, though. To see Reddick really let loose, watch him lend his intimidating rep to full effect in the Comedy Central satire “Corporate” as a hilariously psychopathic boss with a spiritually absurd name: Christian DeVille. The character does not believe God exists, but he sure believes in making money in His name.
After doing “The Wire” and “Fringe” back to back, Reddick was hesitant to play another top cop role. But Irvin Irving in the Amazon crime drama “Bosch” is not just another cop — the Los Angeles chief of police is more of a political animal who loves power games.
Michael Connelly, whose novels are the basis of series, tweeted that Reddick was able to deepen a character who was, by the author’s own admission, “paper-thin in the books,” making him “Machiavellian, intriguing and even sympathetic.” Irving is constantly disgruntled and fuming about Bosch (Titus Welliver), a detective who refuses to play by the rules. — the chief’s disdain is evident in his posture, in his voice, in everything he does. But thanks to Reddick, he always commands your attention.
Reddick’s most popular film role came late in his career: Charon, the sleek concierge at the Continental Hotel in the first four installments of the “John Wick” movie franchise.
As an employee of a Manhattan establishment that catered to traveling assassins, Charon — named after the ferryman of Hades in Greek mythology — was the soul of discretion. But he was especially sympathetic to the needs of one guest in particular: the very dangerous John Wick (Keanu Reeves).
Over the course of the three films, Charon moves from behind the concierge desk to get in on the action. (If you need someone to help load a shotgun, he’s your guy.) The fourth, “John Wick: Chapter 4,” arrives in theaters next week.