Michael Massee, an actor whose growling voice and intimidating mien made him one of Hollywood’s go-to portrayers of villains, murderers, and serial killers, has died. According to Variety, Massee was 61.
Appearing in everything from Criminal Minds to Rizzoli & Isles, to memorable cameos in the Amazing Spider-Man movies and a lead role on the first season of 24, Massee was an expert at projecting unwholesome and predatory intent. Whether he was playing 24’s darkly comic Ira Gaines, trading quips and bullets with Jack Bauer, or the satanic villain on NBC’s mid-2000s miniseries, Revelations, Massee captured the reptilian glee of pure evil with a commitment and relish matched by few character actors of his generation.
Unfortunately, Massee will most likely go down in history not for his skill as a performer, but for his involvement in a famous on-set tragedy. While co-starring as Funboy in the 1993 film The Crow, Massee fired an improperly loaded prop pistol at the film’s lead, Brandon Lee, discharging a bullet lodged in the barrel from a previous scene. The bullet struck Lee in the stomach with lethal force. Although the film was eventually completed—and Lee’s death ruled an accident—the shock of the incident forced Massee to retire from an acting for a year, returning to New York and refusing all work. Twelve years later, he would tell Extra, “I don’t think you ever get over something like that.”
Actors who worked with Massee over the years—including Donal Logue and Rizzoli & Isles’ Angie Harmon—went on Twitter today to express their condolences.