Brad William Henke, a former NFL player who transitioned to acting and starred in movies like Pacific Rim and World Trade Center as well as TV shows like Orange is the New Black, Justified, and Lost has passed away. He was 56. Henke reportedly passed away in his sleep on November 29, but no cause of death was disclosed.
Henke, who was reared in Littleton, Colorado, and was born in Columbus, Nebraska, on April 10, 1966, played collegiate football at the University of Arizona while also serving as team captain and an All-Academic student writer. He was selected in the 1989 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He later played defensive line with the Denver Broncos and participated in Super Bowl XXIV.
Henke relocated to Los Angeles to pursue coaching after being forced to quit in 1994 due to injury. A “big guy” open call for a commercial quickly resulted in a new profession. He started getting guest roles on TV shows including ER, Chicago Hope, Silk Stockings, Nash Bridges, and Arli$$, and he kept working consistently until this year, accruing close to 100 credits.
The actor was cast in the lead alongside Sam Trammell in Showtime’s one-season road trip dramedy Going to California, which starred Nikki Cox. This was the actor’s first significant recurring role. Henke had numerous cameo appearances on series like CSI, Crossing Jordan, and Judging Amy in the early 2000s, in addition to supporting roles in several films.
Before being cast as Tony Tucci on Showtime’s Dexter, a murder suspect-turned-near-victim who appeared in four episodes, he had roles in The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Must Love Dogs, The Zodiac, North Country, World Trade Center, and Hollywoodland.
On the brief drama October Road, which aired on ABC in 2007, Henke received his second series-regular role. He then appeared as a guest star on shows including Law & Order, Life on Mars, and CSI: Miami before being cast as Bram and recurring on six episodes of Lost on ABC in 2009–2010. Henke later went on to portray Coover Bennett in seven episodes of Season 2 of FX’s Justified and completed an arc on The Chicago Code, a 2011 Shawn Ryan thriller on Fox.
Additionally, he was in the Sundance 2008 debut of the feature film Choke, which shared the Special Jury Prize for Best Ensemble Cast. Henke also completed mid-2010s arcs for Sneaky Pete on Prime Video and The Bridge on FX. Then he received possibly his most recognizable role.
Henke was chosen to play Desi Piscatella, a gay prison officer at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary, in Jenji Kohan’s Orange, Is the New Black on Showtime. He participated in over twenty episodes between 2016 and 2018, and in 2017 he shared the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. The next year, the cast received another nomination.
Henke also had guest appearances in the second season of Discovery’s Manhunt in 2020 as Big John and in the 2020–2021 seasons of The Stand on CBS All Access as Tom Cullen. Law & Order: SVU, the 2022 movies Block Party and Run & Gun, as well as other contemporary projects include his include. Henke leaves behind his mother Tammy, sister Annette, wife Sonja, stepson Aaden, stepson Leasa, and granddaughter Amirah, as well as thousands of friends, fellow performers, and pupils.