Actor and poet Craig Must Grant, best known for Arnold “Poet” Jackson on the HBO prison drama series Oz, has passed away. Grant died on Wednesday, according to his representative, Pam Ellis-Evaneas, of the Ellis Talent Group, but the cause of death has not yet been identified. He was only 52 years old.
“We are broken over the loss of one of the most sincere, caring and loving souls we have ever been able to represent,” the talent agency said in a statement. “Craig was more than our client, he was our dear friend. We’ve all lost just one phenomenal man.”
One of Grant’s greatest roles was next as a convicted murderer and drug addict, Arnold Jackson Oz. On the show, the other characters referred to Arnold as a “poet” because he was constantly writing poetry to pamper the other inmates. At some point the poet managed to get out of prison to return after another crime. While the series is known for its very high body count, Poet managed to survive the entire run of the show, debuting season one in 1997 and making the series finale in 2003. This makes him one of the most memorable characters in the acclaimed drama.
In addition, Grant has worked with Spike Lee on several projects. He had a recurring role in the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, based on the Lee film of the same name. Grant would later appear in an uncredited role in Lee’s hit 2018 film BlacKkKlansman. The actor also starred in Birdman, The Price, Good Time, and Bringing Out the Dead films. On the small screen, some of Grant’s other roles are 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 was shooting a recurring role on the Starz series Hightown in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was scheduled to travel to Atlanta on Monday to film additional scenes for a role on the BET series All the Queen’s Men. This followed recent work in Steven Soderbergh’s film No Sudden Move; Grant had previously worked with Soderbergh on his Cinemax series The Knick and 2013 film 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 who competed against each other in the 1996 National Poetry Slam. The poet would also appear on several seasons of the HBO series Def Poetry. Grant has always been a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company in New York.
Information on Grant’s survivors is not clear, but we express our condolences to the friends and family of the late actor and poet at this painful time. There is no telling how much joy Grant has brought into the world with his longstanding poetry, let alone the various memorable performances he has had on film and television. Rest in peace. That news comes from The Hollywood Reporter.