Spike Lee pays tribute to actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Spike LeeImage copyright
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Thomas Jefferson Byrd with Spike Lee in 2012

Oscar winner Spike Lee has paid tribute to actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who has been shot and killed in the US.

Writing on Instagram, Lee called the actor his “beloved brother”, adding:”Tom is my guy.”

The 70-year-old had starred in many of Lee’s films, including Clockers, Bamboozled and Chi-Raq.

Police were called to Belvedere Avenue, southwest Atlanta, on Saturday, where Byrd was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back.

He was identified and pronounced dead by the emergency services, according to Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant.

Police are working to determine the circumstances, said Grant – although Lee characterised Byrd’s death as a “murder” on his Instagram account.

Viola Davis, who had also worked alongside Byrd, also tweeted her shock at the news.

Jack Ryan and The Wire star Wendell Pierce also paid tribute.

Byrd’s appearances in other Spike Lee movies include Get on the Bus, Red Hook Summer, Girl 6, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and He Got Game, opposite Denzel Washington and Milla Jovavich.

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He also starred on stage and earned a Tony nomination

Lee and Byrd first collaborated on 1995 film Clockers – and the director shared two Instagram clips featuring Byrd, who played a violent enforcer called Eric Byrne.

The actor also appeared in Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles biopic Ray.

His theatre work also earned him a Tony nomination in 2003 for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in which he starred opposite Whoopi Goldberg.

“May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family,” Lee said.

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