Celebrity acting coach Sandra Seacat, whose students included Jessica Lange, Andrew Garfield and Laura Dern, died of natural causes Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 86.
Seacat’s unique coaching style made her the acting teacher of a generation and helped actors create honest naturalist performances. Aside from Lange, Garfield and Dern, Seacat taught actors such as Harvey Keitel, Marlo Thomas, Aaron Eckhart, Meg Ryan, Misha Baryshnikov, Isabella Rossellini, Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson, Mary Kay Place, Peter Falk, Shia LaBeouf, Martin Henderson, Mickey Rourke and Michelle Williams.
“Sandra lived by seeing magic and possibility in everything. She met the discovery of character and story with equal protectiveness, irreverence, humility and grace,” recalled Dern in a statement. “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.”
Seacat was born Oct. 2, 1936 in Greensburg, Kansas. She studied at Northwestern University and moved to New York City after graduation, with just $69 in her pocket. In New York, Lee Strasberg welcomed Seacat to The Actors Studio and encouraged her to teach as well.
Starting in 1975, Seacat, aka Ms. Seacat, taught acting workshops and classes in the United States and Europe with an unwavering devotion to storytelling and art that built a group of students and friends.
Seacat played Andrew Garfield’s mother in “Under the Banner of Heaven,” one of her last acting performances.
“She is a true legend in the sense that she lived the most virtuous life one can imagine. A life devoted to profound service and healing through art,” remarked Garfield in a statement. “She was a revolutionary, a culture changing teacher of acting and storytelling. She is 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 is survived by her husband, Thurn Hoffman, and daughter, acting coach Greta Seacat. A memorial will take place in New York and Los Angeles later this year. Donations can be made to The Actors Studio.