Lisa Spoonauer, a New Jersey native that portrayed Caitlin Bree in Kevin Smith’s 1994 comedy Clerks, has died at the age of 44. Lisa Spoonauer’s family confirmed that she passed on Saturday, but didn’t reveal the cause of her death.
Lisa Spoonauer was only 21-years-old when she appeared in Kevin Smith’s raunchy hit comedy, which was made for just $27,000 and ultimately went on to gross over $3.2 million, as well as being met with plaudits by critics. But while Kevin Smith has since gone on to have a prolonged Hollywood career, writing and/or directing 11 more movies in the 23 years since, Lisa Spoonauer decided to end her acting career shortly after starring in Clerks.
According to NJ, at the time of her death, Lisa Spoonauer was living in Jackson, New Jersey. She had been raised in Freehold, and after her appearance in the film she worked as a restaurant manager and event planner. Lisa Spoonauer also married Tom Caron, with whom she had a daughter Mia, while she is also survived by her step-son Tyler.
Michael and Mark Spoonauer, Lisa’s twin brothers, have set up a Just Giving page to raise donations in Lisa’s name for the Patient Advocate Foundation, which is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance and case management services for patients. The Just Giving page explains that if Lisa had improved, “she was going to devote the rest of her life to fighting for those with chronic illness who didn’t have the strength or the resources to get the right answers and ultimately obtain the correct course of treatment for themselves.”
In Clerks, Lisa Spoonauer’s Caitlin Bree decides to get back together with Dante Hicks, played in the film by Brian O’Halloran, only for a tragic accident to scupper their romance towards the end of the film.
Shortly after news of Lisa Spoonauer’s death started to circulate on Tuesday, Kevin Smith took to his Instagram to post a heartfelt message about just how integral she had been to getting Clerks off the ground, calling her “easily the most natural and authentic voice in the room.” It wasn’t easy for Kevin Smith to find the right actress to play Caitlin Bree, too, because after originally holding a night of open auditions they were left unimpressed by what they’d seen. This provoked them to attend an acting class at Brookdale Community College, which is where they spotted Lisa Spoonauer and were instantly wowed.
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.
While filming Clerks, Lisa Spoonauer met and fell in love with her co-star Jeff Anderson, who played Randall Graves in the film, and the pair actually married in 1998. One of Lisa’s friends later took to Twitter to post a picture of Lisa Spoonauer on her wedding day.
As well as Kevin Smith’s touching post regarding Lisa Spoonauer, Brian O’Halloran also made his own tribute to the actress, saying that he was “truly gutted” by the news of her death, as did Marilyn Ghigliotti.
[Featured Image by Miramax]