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.
“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.