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, an All-Academic student writer and former team captain of the University of Arizona’s football team, was born on April 10, 1966, in Columbus, New Brunswick, and reared in Littleton, Colorado. 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.
R.I.P. to Brad William Henke. From the Gridiron to our television screens. Appreciate you pic.twitter.com/0BD6aQcjL4
— Ashton Morris (@ashtonmorris1) December 2, 2022
Henke relocated to Los Angeles in 1994 to pursue coaching when injuries forced him to quit. 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 a lead role 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 a number of 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.
Brad William Henke making it as an actor
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..