JACKSON, N.J. — Lisa Spoonauer, an actress who starred in the 1994 award-winning movie “Clerks,” has died. She was 44.
Spoonauer died Sunday at her home in Jackson, the George Hassler Funeral Home said. The cause of death wasn’t released.
Kevin Smith cast Spoonauer in the role of Caitlin Bree in his first movie, which was set in the New Jersey convenience and video stores where he worked in real life.
On Instagram on Tuesday, Smith wrote that she was one of “the chief architects” of the movie, which won him accolades at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.
He recalled that he first met Spoonauer in 1992 in an acting class at Brookdale Community College.
Devastated to report that #LisaSpoonauer, who played Caitlin in #clerks, has passed away. In 1992, I went looking for Lisa without knowing either who she was or the integral role she'd play in my life. I'd held a night of open auditions at the #firstavenueplayhouse (where we found @briancohalloran and @marilynghigliotti) but the perfect Caitlin Bree never walked through the door. So I popped into an acting class at Brookdale Community College and watched the students from the back. Lisa was easily the most natural and authentic voice in the room. She didn't sound like she was acting at all; she delivered scripted dialogue as if she was inventing her conversation in the moment, like people do in real life. Captivated, I approached Lisa cold in the parking lot after the class and said "This is gonna sound creepy but… Do you wanna be in a movie?" Fearlessly, she replied "Not if it's porn." I told her a bit about Clerks and gave her a copy of the script and my phone number. She called me a few days later and said "Well it's not porn, but everybody talks like it is. It's funny. I'll do it." A complete stranger at first, Lisa quickly became one of the most important people I'd ever meet when she joined Brian, #JeffAnderson, Marilyn, @jaymewes, @samosier, @davidkleinasc and me as one of the chief architects of my first film. We rehearsed for a month straight in the store after hours, where Lisa perfected Caitlin (and fell in love with Jeff). The first night of the shoot, Lisa had to maneuver her way through a seven minute scene with Brian in the video store, when Caitlin finally shows up in the movie. Lisa and Brian CRUSHED it in one long take that still remains one of my favorite scenes I've ever shot – not because it shows off any directorial flare (it doesn't) but because it exemplified how great the performers were since we never had to cut away from their 2-shot. But as strong an actress as she was, Lisa was an even more excellent Mother to her daughter Mia. Whenever we'd Facebook later in life, she'd gush about her baby girl proudly. My heart goes out to Tom, Mia and Lisa's family. Thank you for dreaming my dream with me. You changed my life, Lisa.
“Lisa was easily the most natural and authentic voice in the room,” Smith wrote. “She didn’t sound like she was acting at all.”
In the movie, her character gets back together with her high school boyfriend Dante Hicks, who was played by Brian O’Halloran.
“She always had a wicked sense of humor and smile,” O’Halloran wrote on Instagram.
I'm truly gutted by this news. I've learned that on Saturday Lisa Spoonauer passed away. My deepest condolences and prayers to her husband Tom and his family. She always had a wicked sense of humor and smile. I was blessed to have been part of an incredible life changing adventure with her. To this day it is a part of my life. Not a day goes by that she was mentioned or remembered in some fashion. She will live on in my heart and in the hearts of millions. Always in my heart. Rest in Peace Lisa. #RIPLisaSpoonauer
Spoonauer soon left acting and became a restaurant manager and event planner.
She is survived by her husband, her daughter and a stepson.
Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday.