Entertainment & Arts

Seymour Cassel: Character actor dies aged 84

Seymour Cassel Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Seymour Cassel amassed 200 screen credits during his 60-year career

Actor Seymour Cassel, known for his collaborations with John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson, has died aged 84.

His daughter, Dilyn Cassel Murphy, confirmed her father died in Los Angeles on Sunday following complications from Alzheimer's disease.

A veteran character actor of TV and film, Cassel specialised in off-kilter roles during his 60-year career.

This included an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Cassavetes' 1968 effort, Faces.

The film marked part of a 30-year-long collaboration between the pair, that began when Cassavetes offered him an uncredited acting role in his 1958 directorial debut, Shadows.

Their friendship grew, and, a year later, saw Cassell follow Cassavetes and his wife Gena Rowlands to Los Angeles, where he lived in their guesthouse.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cassel became a lifelong friend and collaborator of director John Cassavetes
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cassel appeared alongside Cassavetes' wife, Gena Rowlands, in 1974's Minnie and Moskowitz

The duo continued their association throughout the decades - with Cassel appearing in 1971's Minnie and Moskowitz (alongside Rowlands), 1974's The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and 1984's Love Streams - before Cassavetes' death in 1989.

Rebellious streak

Born in Detroit, Cassel travelled frequently as a child with his mother, a burlesque dancer. He never met his father, according to The New York Times.

"I was a little ham and was a very open kid, probably because I was around adults all the time," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1992.

But, angry and rebellious as a teenager, he began drinking at 13. His mother sent him back to Detroit to live with his grandmother, before he left for New York to pursue acting - where he would eventually meet Cassavetes.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cassel with ex-wife Elizabeth Deering on the set of Minnie and Moskowitz

The wild streak remained throughout his Hollywood years, with Cassel's hard-partying lifestyle eventually impacting his personal and professional life.

His near 20-year marriage to Elizabeth Deering ended in divorce in 1983, following time spent time in prison on cocaine charges - and his career waned as a result.

Anderson revival

However, Cassel, who amassed 200 credits throughout his career, continued to find charismatic bit-part roles in independent films.

An appearance in Alexandre Rockwell's 1992 film In The Soup won him a Sundance acting prize and, importantly, caught the attention of Anderson.

The director revived Cassel's career by casting him as the father of Jason Schwartzmann's character in 1998's Rushmore.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wes Anderson helped to revive Cassel's career

Cassel would appear in two more Anderson films, 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou in 2004.

Cassel continued to appear in a handful of small roles every year until 2014.

He is survived by his two children alongside Dylan; Lisa Papciak and Matthew Cassel, as well as seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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