John Frey, ‘Cabaret Maxime’ Actor and Screenwriter, Dies at 62

Ellise Shafer
·2-min read

John Frey, an actor, screenwriter, director and teacher known for the 2018 film “Cabaret Maxime,” died on Jan. 23 of heart failure. He was 62.

Born in the Bronx, Frey graduated from the prestigious William Esper Studio for actors and had a 25-year international career in film, theater and television. Frey’s early theater acting and directing credits include “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “27 Wagons Full of Cotton,” “Miss Julie” and “Of Mice and Men.” His most recent project was as an actor and screenwriter for Bruno de Almeida’s film “Cabaret Maxime,” which won him the Portuguese Society of Authors best screenplay award.

“An artist pure of heart and generous of spirit has been taken from us far too soon,” a representative for the William Esper Studio said in a statement. “John was a critically-acclaimed director, award-winning screenwriter and among the most respected acting technique teachers in the world.”

Frey first met de Almeida in New York City, and the two collaborated on a total of five films before “Cabaret Maxime”: “On the Run” (1999), “The Collection” (2005), “The Lovebirds” (2009), “The Lecture” (2012) and “Operation Autumn” (2013). In addition to acting in all of these films, Frey is also credited as a writer on “The Collection,” “The Lovebirds” and “Operation Autumn.”

Frey’s other film credits include Michael Imperioli’s “The Hungry Ghosts,” “15 Months in May,” “Call Girl in Slow Motion” in Portugal, “The Wake” in Denmark and “Les Taxis Rouge” with Jean Reno in France. Frey’s television acting credits include “Rescue Me” with Dennis Leary and the TV miniseries “Mata Hari” in Russia.

In 2009, Frey moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where he opened the John Frey Studio for Actors and taught the Meisner technique to young actors. Frey also established the Below the Belt Theater Company in 2013, where he directed plays including John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” and Stephen Adly Guirgis’s “The Motherfucker With the Hat.”

Frey returned to New York City in 2019 to join the William Esper Studio faculty and taught there until his death. He had been working on completing a screenplay about Herman Melville, the author of “Moby Dick.”

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