Bill Nunn, known for his role of Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing, died on Saturday at the age of 62.
Lee announced the news in a statement posted to social media. “My Dear Friend, My Dear Morehouse Brother,” he wrote. “Da Great Actor Bill Nunn As Most Of You Know Him As Radio Raheem Passed Away This Morning In His Hometown Of Pittsburgh. Long Live Bill NUNN. RADIO RAHEEM Is Now RESTING IN POWER. RADIO RAHEEM WILL ALWAYS BE FIGHTING DA POWERS DAT BE. MAY GOD WATCH OVER BILL NUNN.”
Nunn’s first feature film was in 1988’s School Daze alongside Lee, who would next direct the actor as Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. The character’s name stems from his signature boombox, and perhaps his most notable moment comes when he explains the origins of his “Love” and “Hate” rings.
DJ Drama tweeted after Nunn’s death, “Your image and message from ‘Do The Right Thing’ is as relevant today as it was in ’89.” Lee also posted the lines from the scene and a photo of the character’s sneakers to Instagram.
Radio Raheem. Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It's a tale of good and evil. Hate! It was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love! These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love is finished. But hold on, stop the presses the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that's right. Yea, Boom, it's a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he's down. Ooh! Ooh! Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love. If I love you, I love you. But if I hate you…Mookie: there it is, Love and Hate. Raheem I love you bruh…
“Spike said, ‘Hey, I want you to do this,'” Nunn recalled to EW of the role in a 2013 interview. “He had me in mind to do Mister Señor Love Daddy at the time, the DJ character [played by Samuel L. Jackson]. But I’m so glad it worked out the way it did. Radio Raheem was really good for me because I like those characters that don’t have a lot of lines but they’re kind of significant to the story. I thought of Steve McQueen because I liked Steve McQueen’s silence a lot in movies.”
In 1992, Nunn starred as Detective Eddie Souther opposite Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act, and he later featured in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy as Joseph “Robbie” Robertson of The Daily Bugle newspaper. He also appeared in Runaway Jury, Bulletproof, Extreme Measures, and a string of TV roles. Nunn last appeared as Cash in the USA series Sirens.
Representatives for Nunn have to responded to EW request for comment.