A tribute to Lance Reddick by the creators of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The late actor's last on-screen performance before passing away at the age of sixty was in the part of ‘Zeus’.

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This week marked the spectacular finale of Disney’s first season of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, as the journey of the show’s titular young hero reached its pinnacle atop the Empire State Building. Similar to the book from which this season was adapted, Percy saves the gods from impending apocalyptic war by recovering the lightning bolt that was taken from Zeus, albeit much more difficult than it was supposed to be. Zeus is a significant character for the remainder of Rick Riordan’s enormously famous book series, but it’s unknown how much of a part he’ll play in the Disney+ series’ upcoming seasons.

Zeus was portrayed in Season 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Lance Reddick, a talented actor well-recognized for his parts in Lost, The Wire, and the John Wick movie series. Reddick’s last television role before his untimely death from natural causes in March 2023 at the age of sixty-one was in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The season finale, entitled “The Prophecy Comes True,” ended with Zeus still reigning supreme on Mount Olympus—but the show’s creators commemorated the passing of the actor who played him with a title card in the end credits, that read: “In loving memory of Lance Reddick.”

Lance Reddick’s Tribute

Showrunners Jon Steinburg and Dan Shotz commended Reddick’s acting prowess and the weight he brought to such a legendary part in an interview with Variety following the episode’s airing. “We wanted Zeus to be someone who needs to be constantly convincing himself that everything is fine and under control. That felt like it came with a little bit of theater, a little bit of projection of his own authority, but also a sense of real presence,” said Steinberg. “When you take all of those ideas and start looking for a person who embodies them, they just start to look like Lance. He is so — was so regal, and able to convey so many different things at the same time. To stand on stage and do a very theatrical monologue, but feel so grounded. The population of actors who can do those things, and then also just be the sweetest person and great with the kids he’s acting with — heartbreaking is the right word. It was a perfect fit in a very hard-to-fit role, and he went way too soon.” Shotz added that it was “crushing” to lose Reddick so soon, saying: “I really connected with him personally. We continued to talk for — I think it was only four to six weeks after we wrapped [that he died]. We were talking regularly. I’m just super grateful that I got that time with him. We have to look at it and say, ‘Oh my God, he got to be Zeus as one of his last roles.’ It’s so perfect. I’ve spoken to his wife, and she’s so happy about this role, and him being a part of this. She reached out directly with a beautiful note about how excited she is to see him in this role. So, I’m hurting, we’re all hurting. But at the same time, I cannot wait for people to see his performance.”

Who will replace Lance Reddick as ‘Zeus’?

Disney has not officially stated whether or not Percy Jackson and the Olympians will return for a second season, but chances are likely that the characters will set out on a new adventure that is influenced by the second book, The Sea of Monsters. Though Zeus still makes an appearance in the source material, Steinberg and Shotz aren’t sure how they feel about casting someone else in the role.

“It’s difficult to have two different human beings inhabit the same character. But life happens, and sometimes that’s where you are,” says Steinberg. “Fortunately, we have a little bit of time. Even once the process gets started, we don’t see Zeus again for a little bit, so we’ll have a minute to try to find the right fit. It’s not ideal, but certainly, I think his mark on that role will be felt with whoever steps into his shoes. It’s a tall order for anybody to try to live up to the performance of somebody else… I don’t think anybody’s looking forward to that, to be honest, but we’ll do the best we can to make sure that you feel him in whatever that character is moving forward.”

Reddick died from heart disease on March 17, 2023, aged 60, at his home in Studio City, Los Angeles.

By: Gursharan Kaur

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