TMZ reports that Cathey died in New York following a bout with lung cancer. Executive producers who worked with Cathey, including The Wire‘s David Simon and House of Cards‘ Beau Willimon, also confirmed Cathey’s death on social media.
“Not only a fine, masterful actor – but simply one of the most delightful human beings with whom I ever shared some long days on set. On wit alone, he could double any man over and leave him thinking,” Simon wrote. “Reg, your memory is a great blessing.”
Willimon added, “Reg Cathey was one of a kind. Brimming with life force, generosity, humor, gravitas and a fountain of talent. Loved by everyone lucky enough know him and work with him. He will be greatly missed.”
In 2015, Cathey won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for playing Freddy Hayes, a BBQ rib shack owner and a confidante of sorts to Kevin Spacey’s duplicitous Frank Underwood on Netflix’s House of Cards. Between 2013 and 2015, the actor received three consecutive Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Guest Actor category for the role.
“I liked the story a lot,” Cathey told Today of the role in 2014. “I knew it would be something special. I didn’t know whether people would like it or whether they would watch but I knew it was special. I thought it was simply lovely. And we had a ball doing it.”
Cathey previously appeared in a pair of acclaimed HBO series, first as “Emerald City” prison overseer Martin Querns on Oz in 2002 before appearing on 23 episodes of The Wire as Norman Wilson, an adviser to Baltimore politician Thomas Carcetti.
In a career that spanned four decades, Cathey also had reoccurring roles on the children’s TV series Square One, David Simon’s pre-The Wire miniseries The Corner, the FX boxing drama Lights Out and, most recently, the Cinemax horror series Outcast. Cathey also appeared in the films The Mask, the recent Fantastic Four reboot, Se7en, St. Vincent, the villain Dirty Dee in Pootie Tang and 2017’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, his last credited role.
“We are heartbroken by the passing of our friend and House of Cards colleague Reg E. Cathey,” Netflix said in a statement. “Reg was the kindest man, the most giving actor, a true gentlemen. Our sympathy goes to his family.”