Sandra Seacat, a longtime New York and Hollywood acting teacher whose students would become or already were some of the biggest names in the business – Andrew Garfield, Jessica Lange, Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel, Michelle Williams and Common, to choose just a sampling, died of natural causes Wednesday surrounded by loved ones in Santa Monica. She was 87.
Her death was announced by a rep for her family.
“She was a revolutionary, a culture changing teacher of acting and storytelling,” said actor Andrew Garfield, calling her a “beacon for all of us of what a life of deep meaning and beauty can look like. And she was irreverent and forever playing like a joyful unbridled child. I feel grateful beyond words to be able to call her my teacher, my acting partner in ‘Under The Banner of Heaven’, my mentor and my friend.” (Seacat played Garfield’s mother in the film he mentions, one of her final screen performances.)
Common, currently making his Broadway debut in Between Riverside and Crazy, said, “Sandra impacted and inspired my life in ways that only GOD could have orchestrated. Her Love for People her love for life her love acting let me know as she would always tell me ‘You can heal people through your work as an actor , you can inspire people through your work as an actor.’ And that truly made me see the higher purpose in the art that I do.”
Born in Greensburg, Kansas on October 2, 1936, Seacat graduated from Northwestern University, and with only $69 in her pocket and a dream of becoming an actress, she headed to New York City where she met Lee Strasberg, who accepted her as a member of The Actors Studio and later encouraged her to also teach.
Since 1975, Seacat conducted her own classes and workshops in the US and Europe. Though she’d primarily work in New York and Los Angeles – she lived in New York – Seacat used innovative techniques to draw truthful, powerful and naturalistic performances from her students. In addition to those already mention, studying under Seacat at one time or anther were Mickey Rourke, Marlo Thomas, Aaron Eckhart, Meg Ryan, Misha Baryshnikov, Isabella Rossellini, Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson, Mary Kay Place, Peter Falk, Shia LaBeouf, Martin Henderson and many others.
“Sandra lived by seeing magic and possibility in everything,” said Laura Dern. “She met the discovery of character and story with equal protectiveness, irreverence, humility and grace. She taught us the practice of investigating healing through acting. But more than that. She invited us to know ourselves as artists and humans in ways I could’ve never begun to explore without her. She’s been my teacher since age 17 and I had the honor of acting alongside her several times. She is my whole heart”.
She is survived by husband Thurn Hoffman, and beloved daughter (and acting teacher) Greta Seacat.
A memorial will be set in NYC and Los Angeles later in the year. In lieu of flowers, any contributions to celebrate Sandra’s life should be made in her name to The Actors Studio.
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