Ron Cephas Jones, Who Played William Hill In This Is Us, Has Died At 66


Ron Cephas Jones, the Emmy-winning actor best known for his role as William Hill in NBC's critically-acclaimed drama "This Is Us," has died at the age of 66. The news was confirmed by a representative for the actor, who released a statement to People attributing the "beloved and award-winning" actor's death to "a long-standing pulmonary issue." Jones had suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and received a double lung transplant in 2020.

Jones began his acting career on the stage before landing guest roles on "Law & Order" and "NYPD Blue." The '90s also saw him star in Bridgett M. Davis' indie movie "Naked Acts" and appear in Spike Lee's "He Got Game," but it was in 2016 that his star truly began to rise as he appeared in "Mr. Robot," "Luke Cage," "The Get Down," and, of course, "This Is Us." 

In the NBC family drama, Jones played the biological father of Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown), who left Randall at a fire station when he was just a baby. The two are reunited when Randall is an adult, and in an emotional storyline were able to form a relationship before William died of stomach cancer at the end of season 1. Due to the time-shifting nature of the series, Jones returned in season 2 and made recurring appearances throughout the rest of the series. He won two Emmy Awards for the role.

More recently, Jones starred alongside Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul in the crime drama "Truth Be Told," which ran for three seasons on Apple TV+. Last year, Jones received a Tony nomination for his role in the Broadway play "Clyde's." Speaking to the New York Times about returning to the stage after a grueling recovery from his double lung transplant, Jones said, "The idea of not performing again seemed worse to me than death."

'I just love doing the work'

As Jones recounted to the New York Times, his early career in the arts was derailed by a heroin addiction that led to an arrest and multiple attempts at rehabilitation. He got clean for the last time in 1986, and went on to star in his first play, Samuel B. Harps' "Don't Explain" at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, in 1990.

Reflecting on his late-blooming success in a 2020 interview with Gold Derby, Jones said that he had "waited a long time" for people to notice his work, and his award wins were important primarily as a sign that people were paying attention to his performances. "I just love doing the work and consistently being nominated and winning just says to me that people are acknowledging the work, saying 'whatever the case may be, Ron's work deserves to be noticed,'" the actor explained. "It didn't become about the wins after that, it just became the fact that I was saying to myself, 'my work is resonating, people are actually noticing my work.'"

Jones is survived by his daughter, Jasmine Cephas Jones, who was part of the original cast of "Hamilton" on Broadway and won her first Emmy in 2020. That was the same year that Ron won his second Emmy award for "This Is Us," making them the first ever father-daughter pair to win in the same year.

"He moves through the world like a cool jazz man, but is also generous and a nurturer," was how "Clyde's" playwright Lynn Nottage characterized Jones in the New York Times' profile piece. "The same qualities that he brings to his acting are the qualities that he embodies in real life."

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