Keith Jefferson, the actor who worked for Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has died. He was 53.
Jefferson died Thursday, his rep Nicole St. John told The Music news. He announced in August that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Every now and then God will give you a challenge and leave it up to you to fix it,” he wrote then. “When I was first diagnosed with cancer I had to stop, pause, and didn’t want to share with anyone. Not my family nor extended family. Today I’m finally at a place to share because my faith is getting stronger.”
Born on April 7, 1970, in Houston, Jefferson received a BFA in musical theater from U.S. International in San Diego and and an MFA in acting from the University of Arizona. He landed his first onscreen role in Boys on the Side (1995).
He portrayed Pudgy Ralph alongside Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained (2012), then appeared as Charly in The Hateful Eight (2015) and as Land Pirate Keith in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).
Foxx took to social media Thursday to pay tribute to the actor, writing, “This one hurts. Keith, you’ve been nothing but absolute grace, your whole life your heart is pure your love is immeasurable you were an amazing soul. We will all miss you dearly. It’s gonna take a long time for this to heal. Goodbye, my friend. I love you.”
Foxx and Jefferson, who met each other in college in San Diego, started working together in the ’90s when Jefferson made an appearance on two episodes of The Jamie Foxx Show. They most recently worked on the Prime Video drama The Burial.
Foxx added in another post, “Everything hurts right now having a hard time looking through these pictures reliving the memories of us having a great time going to miss you man gonna miss you … every since we met back in college, you have been in incredible soul God rest, NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HAVE TO SEE THE WORDS ABOUT MY FRIEND RIP Keith.”
Jefferson also worked as a producer, voiceover artist and acting coach. His other TV and film credits included Relative Opposites, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, You Too, Bosch: Legacy and Day Shift.
As for the stage, he had roles in such touring and regional theater productions such as Big River, Othello, Superior Donuts and Piano Lesson.
St. John said Jefferson had several projects in the works and was in the “midst of a project that captured his unique and resonant voice. He had been looking forward to returning in the new year.”