Seacat began acting in theater in the early 1960s and was described with a fellow actor by the The Village Voice after a summer-stock production of Leonid Andreyev play The Waltz of the Dogs as "destined to bring many future stages alive."
She moved to New York and attended the Actors Studio, where she studied method acting under the studio's director, Lee Strasberg.
In the early 1970s, she led classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, City College of New York's Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, and as a member of the Actors Studio, as well as teaching privately. Steve Railsback and Mickey Rourke, who told New York Magazine that Seacat was his mentor for six years,were among her clients during that period.
Seacat eventually worked in both New York and Los Angeles,coaching actors like Jessica Lange as Lange prepared for her role in the 1982 film Frances.About the same time, according to The New York Times, Seacat helped pioneer the practice of dream work, where actors study and play characters from their dreams. She also taught the method to her daughter, Greta Seacat, who is an acting coach. Seacat clients Melanie Griffith and Gina Gershon have credited Seacat's use of the dream method with improving their craft.
Acting teacher Alex Cole Taylor in 2010 told Backstage that he learned compassion for his students from Seacat. CNN's Todd Leopold, in a story about acting coach Elizabeth Kemp, coupled Seacat with Lee Strasberg as "legendary acting coaches."
Seacat is a faculty member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute Film Forum at the University of Arkansas.
She has commented over the years about actors she has trained, including Laura Dern, who thanked Seacat when she accepted a best actress award at the Golden Globe Awards in January 2012.
Other actors who have studied under Seacat include Chris Pine,Marlo Thomas,Lance Henriksen,Harvey Keitel, Isabella Rossellini, Rachel Ward, Treat Williams,Meg Ryan,Michelle Pfeiffer,Mikhail Baryshnikov,Peter Falk, and Lynda Carter.
Seacat directed one movie, 1990's In the Spirit. In reviewing the film, which starred Marlo Thomas and Elaine May, The New York Times called it "a nervous new-age comedy more notable for good intentions than good luck." The Boston Globe described the movie as "An Endearing Mess,"The Washington Post headlined it a "Grand and Goofy Comedy," and the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Spirit Loses Its Comic Flair Halfway Through." Variety, however, described the actors in the leading roles a "memorable screen odd couple."
While In the Spirit was filming, the Los Angeles Times's Cinefile column covered Seacat's directorial debut, calling her an "acting guru," and Liz Smith wrote about the film in her gossip column.
In August 2007, Seacat, with Jamie Wollrab, directed her daughter, Greta Seacat, and others in Elizabeth Meriwether's play The Mistakes Madeline Made at Boulder, at Colorado's Dairy Center for the Arts, starring Shannon Woodward, Justin Chatwin and Johnny Lewis.
Seacat lives in Santa Monica with her husband, actor Thurn Hoffman.
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