Seymour Cassel, the veteran character actor known for his work with directors John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson, has died at the age of 84.
Cassel died Sunday in Los Angeles, Variety reported, adding that the actor suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years.
A longtime character actor with over 200 credits on his resume, Cassel first appeared onscreen in Cassavetes’ 1958 directorial debut Shadows, with Cassel serving as both actor and crewmember on the independent production.
The film was the first in a nearly 30-year-long collaboration and friendship between Cassavetes and Cassel, who also appeared in the director’s 1968 film Faces – a role that scored Cassel a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination – as well as 1971’s Minnie and Moskowitz, 1974’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and 1984’s Love Streams.
Cassel’s career waned in the early 1980s following an arrest and six-month imprisonment on cocaine charges, but the actor continued to accumulate bit parts over the next two decades, including roles in 1988’s Colors, 1990’s Dick Tracy, 1992’s Honeymoon in Vegas and 1993’s Indecent Proposal.
“The character actors can have the fun, while the leading men think they have to be this object. I mean, that’s boring,” Cassel once said (via The Hollywood Reporter). “The fun is in filling out a part and making it a little crazy, because everyone has a little craziness in them anyway.”
It was Cassel’s role in Alexandre Rockwell’s 1992 indie film In the Soup that put the actor on the radar of Wes Anderson, who cast Cassel as the father of Jason Schwartzmann’s character in 1998’s Rushmore. Cassel would appear in two more Anderson films, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Cassel continued to appear in a handful of small roles every year until 2014.
As Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Rob Sheffield noted on Twitter, Guns N’ Roses’ Slash credited Cassel with coining the guitarist born Saul Hudson’s famed nickname; Hudson was a friend of Cassel’s son Matt:
RIP Seymour Cassel, the man who named Slash pic.twitter.com/8xUf91eeYA
— rob sheffield (@robsheff) April 8, 2019