Lance Reddick is one of “those guys.” From The Wire to Fringe, from Lost to video games like Destiny, Reddick is one of those actors who seems to pop up in every third thing and always makes it better for being there. This weekend, the Baltimore native can be seen dodging bullets in John Wick, opposite Keanu Reeves — but he doesn’t shy away from talking about his nerdier side, the side that loves comic books, plays video games when he’s not voicing characters in them and still wants to play a superhero up on the screen.
You’ve been acting on television for a long time. How has the medium changed over the years?
I feel like I really came into television when it evolved to the next level. I graduated from drama school in the early ‘90s. It was 1994 and that, in some ways, was the height of dramatic network television. Then HBO really changed the game and I was fortunate enough to work on The Corner, which was the David Simon and Ed Burns mini-series they did which was based on the book they wrote before they did The Wire. Then I went straight from that to the fourth season of Oz, which was HBO’s first dramatic series in some ways. It was the first recognized show that everybody kind of latched onto and became a phenomenon. I really feel like Oz changed the game and I was really fortunate to be a part of that. Oz was my big break and then the following year I was in The Wire. The impact of The Wire I guess, as they say, is history.
What was it like to be part of the Lost TV phenomenon?
That was cool. I wish I had been there longer. Don’t get me wrong, being on Fringe was great, but what was cool about Lost is that in some ways it redefined network television. I was cast in Lost while we were shooting the last episode of The Wire. Two weeks later I was on a plane headed to Hawaii to shoot my first episode of Lost.
As a comic book fan, what was it like to be involved, as a voice actor, on the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (as Sam Wilson/The Falcon) and Beware the Batman (as R’as al Ghul) cartoons?
Oh man, that was cool. For The Avengers, I only did a couple of episodes and all of my stuff was isolated. In other words, even though I was working from a live script, I was by myself — so in that way was a little closer to the voice acting that I did for Destiny. But Beware the Batman was a whole nother story, because generally we had the whole cast there. We rehearsed and then read it through like a radio play. And to be able to play Ra’s al Ghul, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.
There is a proliferation of comic book projects, on the big screen and the small. What does that mean for an actor — especially one like yourself, who is steeped in genre?
It does seem like there’s always something happening with Marvel, and DC too. Marvel has been more prolific and successful with the live action movies, but DC has the Batman series. It’s tricky because in television for regular working actors, there’s probably going to be a lot more opportunities with comic book [content]. It seems as though with the big-budget feature films, Hollywood still does a lot of the name-game playing, even though there are a lot of roles available. On TV there’s Gotham, Constantine, Daredevil, The Flash, Arrow, so there’s a lot of opportunity there.
If you had your choice, what superhero would you want to be?
When I was younger I wanted to play the Black Panther. I’d love to have the opportunity to play T’Chaka, the father in the Black Panther film. Also there’s a new Avengers team in the comics that’s almost all people of color. It’s actually a cool series; the artwork is beautiful. There’s a character, the Blue Marvel, that’s basically a black Superman. He lives like in a fortress down at the bottom of the ocean. He’d be cool to play.
How big is your comics collection they days?
Many years ago I stopped buying individual comics, so almost everything I buy now is trade. I buy comics the way I watch television. I rarely watch individual episodes except if my wife’s got the TV on and I walk in the room and get sucked into multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family. But generally I will wait for a season to be over and then I’ll jump into the entire season. And that’s the way I buy the comic books. I buy trade paperbacks. I almost never buy individual comics anymore.
Why did you decide to explore video game acting work with Destiny?
Actually, the answer is not very deep. It was an offer. I had done one other video game before and honestly it just seemed like a cool job. Then when I heard that Peter Dinklage and Paul McCartney were attached I said, “Yeah, let me do it.” I really had no idea it was going to be as phenomenal as it’s becoming.
What was it like actually stepping into the world of Destiny?
I have two experiences. One was just playing it, and in some way I felt like I stepped much more into the world once I started playing it since it’s been released. The funny thing about doing voice acting for video games is that so much of it is just a single line. I was given a rough overview of what the background story was for the game, but quite frankly at the time that I got the information, it was just so much information. I couldn’t have repeated it all back to you if I was quizzed on it. It’s a lot of isolated speeches. It was very hard for me to imagine how my character would fit into the game until I actually started playing.
When it comes to your own background in video games, what did you play?
Video games weren’t really around when I was young, so when they started to come in vogue I was in college. It just wasn’t something I was into. I didn’t really get into video games until Halo.
What opportunities do you see for Destiny in Hollywood, you know, on the linear side?
The opportunities are vast because the game is just so deep. It could easily be a TV series that could run for years. It could be a series of movies. It can go anywhere. It could be a series of movies like Star Trek. Even the way that we watch things has expanded so much that sometimes I forget what I’m doing. I’m doing a series for Amazon now called Bosch and I just saw the first two episodes of Transparent. What’s going on with online entertainment is amazing. I don’t know how much longer traditional television is going to be around.