Actor and poet Craig muMs Grant, best known for playing Arnold “Poet” Jackson on the HBO prison drama series Oz, has passed away. According to his rep Pam Ellis-Evaneas of the Ellis Talent Group, Grant died on Wednesday, but no cause of death has yet been determined. He was only 52 years old.
“We are heartbroken over the loss of one of the most genuine, caring, loving souls we have ever had the pleasure of representing,” the talent agency said in a statement. “Craig was more than our client, he was our dear friend. We all just lost a phenomenal man.”
One of Grant’s biggest roles was as convicted murderer and drug addict Arnold Jackson on Oz. On the show, the other characters referred to Arnold as “Poet,” as he was constantly writing poetry to regale to the other inmates. At one point, Poet had managed to be released from prison, only to return after committing another crime. While the series is known for its very high body count, Poet managed to survive the entire show’s run, debuting in season 1 in 1997 and making it to the series finale in 2003. This makes him one of the acclaimed drama’s most memorable characters.
Additionally, Grant has worked with Spike Lee on multiple projects. He had a recurring role in the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, based on the movie of the same name by Lee. Grant would later appear in an uncredited role in Lee’s hit 2018 movie BlacKkKlansman. The actor has also had role in the movies Birdman, The Price, Good Time, and Bringing Out the Dead. On the small screen, some of Grant’s other roles include Luke Cage, Chappelle’s Show, Boston Legal, Horace and Pete, The Sopranos, and Law & Order: SVU.
At the time of Grant’s death, the actor had been shooting a recurring role on the Starz series Hightown in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was also set to travel to Atlanta on Monday to film more scenes for a role on the BET series All the Queen’s Men. This followed recent work in the Steven Soderbergh movie No Sudden Move; Grant had previously worked with Soderbergh on his Cinemax series The Knick and the 2013 movie Side Effects.
Grant was born in New York City and raised in the Bronx. He first gained national attention as a poet when he appeared in the documentary SlamNation, which followed him and other poets competing at the 1996 National Poetry Slam. The poet would also appear in several seasons of the HBO series Def Poetry. Always harboring a love for performing on stage, Grant was also a member of New York City’s LAByrinth Theater Company.
Information on Grant’s survivors isn’t clear, but we send our condolences to the friends and family of the late actor and poet at this painful time. There’s no telling just how much joy Grant has helped bring into the world with his many years of performing poetry, let alone the various memorable performances he’s had in movies and television. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.