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William Esper death: Tributes pour in after legendary acting teacher passes away

William Esper discussing the Meisner technique. Pic credit: William Esper Studio

Legendary acting teacher William Esper has passed away.

Tributes have been flooding in on social media, with dozens of them shared on the William Esper Studio’s official Instagram Stories page.

Under its founder, the studio has trained a string of famous faces including Larry David, Amy Schumer and Jeff Goldblum.

No details have yet been shared about Esper’s cause of death.

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this man taught me a whole, whole lot of what I know about being an artist.⁣ ⁣ i came to NY after college, a baby. I was torn about whether I should be doing community organizing or relief work or getting a PhD instead but the universe and my heart were telling me, in no uncertain terms, to find the best Meisner teacher in New York and to train with them.⁣ ⁣ My first few months in class Bill called me "the Philosopher" because I was always trying to figure out how to do everything using my head. He'd just chuckle, affectionately, every time I'd try to brain my way into the moment, with this smile that was like, "you can't get there that way." ⁣ ⁣ I was so proud when he switched from calling me the "philosopher" to just saying "good. you're doing good work."⁣ ⁣ the way he named good work so simply when he saw it, without any ego, without a fuss, but just: "that. that's what it feels like. keep going that way."⁣ ⁣ it was "good work" whenever it was true. and present. and simple. and vulnerable without pushing.⁣ ⁣ I had never had a teacher like him. He held space for us to fall and stretch and be terrified and brave; his standards and his ethos and his understanding of art were embedded so deeply in everything he ever said to any of us, and he said it all so simply.⁣ ⁣ he made me an actor. and he made me the artist I am. and he did it for hundreds of us (thousands?)⁣ ⁣ I saw him eight or ten years ago, as a grown up artist, and was able to tell him how grateful I am and how much he taught me. but I am so, so sad that I didn't get to say goodbye to him.⁣ ⁣ It is an extraordinary thing to get to study with a true master. I am so grateful that I got to do that in this life. ⁣ ⁣ I honor my teacher.⁣ ⁣ Bill Esper, you were one of the true greats. thank you so much for everything you gave.⁣ ⁣ #esperstudio #teacher #master #williamesper #training #actortraining #meisner #oneofthegreats ⁣

A post shared by Jessica Blank (@jessicacblank) on

Esper founded the William Esper Studio in 1965, and he was internationally recognized as an authority on the work of Sanford Meisner.

It was Meisner who trained him as an actor when he was young, at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater.

Esper would later become part of the staff at the school. In 1977, he then founded two acting programs at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, leading the department until 2004. It was also during this time that he founded the Esper Studio, where he had continued to teach in recent years..

His work would not only influence the students at his studio, but also make waves around the world. Throughout his career, he served as a teacher Canada’s Banff Festival of the Arts, The National Theatre School of Canada, and the National Film School of Denmark.

Esper was honored with a SAG Certificate of Achievement for his service to the industry. Esper wrote and co-wrote several books throughout this career, including The Actor’s Art and Craft, and The Actor’s Guide To Creating A Character.

Esper leaves behind his wife, Suzanne Esper, a son, Michael Esper, and daughter, Shannon Esper. Both Shannon and Michael followed in their father’s footsteps, pursuing a career in acting.

Mary Jane

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