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Seymour Cassel (1935–2019), recognizable character actor

by Kirk Fox

A favorite of directors John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson.

Seymour Cassel was a longtime character actor who first became known for starring in the indie films of his friend John Cassavetes. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Cassavetes’s 1968 movie “Faces.” Later in his career, he was a favorite of Wes Anderson, appearing in “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”  Known for playing off beat characters, his list of credits is long, including the TV series “Batman”, and the movies, “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Tin Men,” and “Stuck on You.”  

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Died: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 (Who else died on April 2?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 84 from Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Matt, told the Hollywood Reporter.

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How he got his start with Cassavetes: Cassel met the director and asked if he could watch him make his movie. “I just started helping the cameraman. I worked all night. John took us to breakfast and said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘It’s great. Can I come back?’ He said, ‘Sure.’ And I kept coming back. Not only did it enhance my knowledge, but I found the best friend I ever had.” —According to the Hollywood Reporter

Why he liked being a character actor: “The character actors can have the fun, while the leading men think they have to be this object. I mean, that’s boring. The fun is in filling out a part and making it a little crazy, because everyone has a little craziness in them anyway.” —Cassel said according to the Hollywood Reporter

He gave Guns N Roses’ Slash his nickname: Slash (Saul Hudson) was childhood friends with Seymour’s son Matt and gives him credit for his name, according to multiple sources, “Basically, he says it was because I was always in a hurry and I was always scheming, always hustling,”

What they said about him: “Another 1 of the greats has shuffled off this mortal coil. My father-in-law Seymour Cassel; one of the legendary grand daddies of indee film passed away last night. I will miss his sense of humor, impulsive & in the moment nature, generosity, love & passion for life.” —Actor Jordan Murphy on Twitter

“It was an honor to know you. Your craft was crazily authentic. In a darkened cinema seeing Cassavetes film Faces with you in that cast was transformative .RIP.” —Comedian Richard Lewis on Twitter

Full obituary: The Hollywood Reporter

Birthdate: January 22, 1935 (Who else was born on January 22nd?)

See Seymour Cassel and other legendary character actors in our gallery.

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