Lance Reddick made it easy to carry the weight of the world. The actor, who died Friday at his home in Los Angeles, was widely known for playing authority figures. Usually these were cops: Cedric Daniels op The wirePhillip Broyles in Zoomand Irvin Irving in it Bosch.
As with many artists, one role, or type of role, is vastly insufficient to sum up a life and career. Reddick’s resume was extensive and included a wide variety of movies, television shows, eccentric comedies, animated series of all stripes, and video games. Across the breadth of his work, Reddick embodied not only authority, but dependability – his confident performances were a fulcrum upon which a writer could rest any kind of scene, and his generosity enabled his scene partners to shine. It never took up more space than it needed, but you never forgot it was there. It’s a trait that literally showed in his performance as Charon, the unflappable janitor from the John Wick movies who preferred to disarm with manners, but could also work a room with a shotgun when polite finesse couldn’t get the job done.
This is also what made him so suitable for the authoritative roles for which he became known. Reddick knew how to appear stern yet soulful. He could control a room because he knew how to play a character who earned that assignment the hard way. You never knew what one of his characters had to sacrifice to get where they were, but you knew it cost them something.
Actors like Lance Reddick are the hardest to appreciate in their time. They rarely take center stage, even when they can hold it with magnetic intensity – whether playing multiple versions of his character Zoomor roar”I wish I were LeVar Burton!” on The Eric Andre Show. Reddick wielded that intensity as deftly as a baton – ranging from graceful stoicism to the urban tragedy of The wire to gonzo mania as director Christian DeVille in Commercial.
Lance Reddick always seemed to know where he was needed and how much of himself to give. You could always count on Lance Reddick. He made sure no one ever had to think about how much they needed him.