Of course, this is much harder than it looks. Sure, having that voice and that striking physical presence helps, but leaning into that gravitas is a skill set that takes refining, and Reddick did exactly that over his quarter-century in the business. He knew how to use his body, his stature, that voice in a way that didn’t feel overly stylized and never seemed desperate for attention. There’s not a single “look at me” moment in Reddick’s career. And yet you couldn’t look away when he was on screen.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Reddick studied music as a child—maybe that’s where the refined rhythms of his screen presence came from—and later at esteemed schools the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, from which he earned a Bachelor of Music degree. He took the careful precision of his music background to acting when he attended the Yale School of Drama next, earning a Master of Fine Arts from that legendary school.
In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Reddick worked steadily in small film roles, but he felt more prominent in television. It’s no exaggeration to say that he helped define the current reputation of HBO, first by starring in “Oz” as Johnny Basil, an undercover cop sent into the legendary prison who is quickly destroyed by the brutal society in Em City. Before you know it, he’s addicted to heroin and a killer himself. Reddick captured a quick fall from grace that was unforgettable.
But it was his next HBO show that put him on the map and is likely the role that he was most identified with in his career: “The Wire.” As Cedric Daniels, Reddick found the tenor of a man who demanded respect through action more than words. In a show about rampant corruption, Reddick was like shelter in a storm. When he passed last week, HBO tweeted: “Lance has been part of the HBO family for over 20 years, starring in several projects including iconic roles in Oz and The Wire. He is held in the highest regard by all who knew and worked with him and we are proud to be a part of his legacy. He will be missed dearly.”