June 17, 2019

June 17, 2019


Hollywood Character Actor Pursues Role of Lifetime in Degree Program

Sean Hennigan

Sean Hennigan, an art and performance junior at UT Dallas, hopes to teach acting on the college level someday.

Sean Hennigan, an art and performance junior at The University of Texas at Dallas, has already enjoyed a varied acting career in film, television and voiceover work.

Now, he wants to help mentor the next generation of actors. Hennigan, a native Texan, is pursuing a degree at UT Dallas to be able to teach acting on the college level.

“I’m getting old enough now to know that I wanted to give back,” he said. “And the timing was right. I recently had back surgery and can’t be in front of a camera right now, so I figured now was the time to do it.”

Hennigan has made a career out of being a character actor in Hollywood films and television shows. Among the characters he’s played are outlaw Eddie Suggs in Lonesome Dove; Ross, a friend of Kevin Spacey’s lead character in The Life of David Gale; and a U.S. Marshal in 3:10 to Yuma. He also has appeared in television shows such as Friday Night Lights, Wishbone and Walker, Texas Ranger.

“I was a character actor for a long time, which was great. You get a lot of roles,” Hennigan said. “Ultimately, at the core, it’s what I’m good at.”

During his career, he’s rubbed shoulders with notable actors such as Spacey, Russell Crowe, Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.

“All of these folks are not just brilliant actors, but good people, too,” Hennigan said. “Kevin is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. There was one scene in David Gale where he recites a limerick. In between takes, Kevin would write a different limerick each time.”

In nearly every other Western culture, performance art is something that is valued and supported. It’s a patronage art; it has to be patronized. I would like to see that happen in Dallas, see it become a place where young actors could come and stay.

Sean Hennigan,
an art and performance junior
in the School of Arts and Humanities

Crowe never lived up to his notorious reputation for being curmudgeonly on set, he said.

“He told the best jokes, and I can’t repeat any of them,” Hennigan said. “He was able to give some small direction to actors that made a huge difference in how we played a scene. I loved working with him.”

Despite his success in film and television, Hennigan’s first love is live theater. Years ago, he left a BFA program at the University of Texas at Austin to apprentice with the Alley Theatre in Houston. He later became a member of the resident acting company at the Dallas Theater Center.

He would like to see Dallas become a regional hub for theater actors, in particular, to be able to grow in their profession rather than having to leave for Los Angeles or New York.

“I bemoan the fact that live theater has been pushed back from public support,” Hennigan said. “In nearly every other Western culture, performance art is something that is valued and supported. It’s a patronage art; it has to be patronized. I would like to see that happen in Dallas, see it become a place where young actors could come and stay.”

Hennigan and his wife, Dee, realized they needed more than theater roles to support themselves after they started a family. They moved to Los Angeles after Dee landed the role of Dot in Hope Floats, which starred Sandra Bullock.

The couple returned home to Texas a few years ago when Dee was successfully battling breast cancer. Hennigan continued his acting career by responding to casting calls in Austin. He also did voice acting for television and radio ads and had voice performance roles in anime films.


Some notable films and TV shows in which Sean Hennigan has appeared.

Dallas (2013)
Vegas (2012)
Prison Break (2007)
Friday Night Lights (2006)
Walker, Texas Ranger (1994-2000)
JAG (2000)
Melrose Place (1998)
Lonesome Dove (1989)

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
The Life of David Gale (2003)


“I do love voice acting. It’s what has paid my bills for 15 to 20 years,” he said.

When pressed to name an actor whose talent he admires, Hennigan said some of the best acting today is done on television.

“You can turn on the TV and see extraordinary work from actors on shows like Orphan Black or Breaking Bad or House of Cards. They’re showing a real fearlessness. It’s OK to be a good actor again, not just a celebrity,” Hennigan said.

Since he’s been at UT Dallas, Hennigan has served as an acting coach for a UTD Theatre production of SubUrbia, a play his brother directed in February. Brad Hennigan is a lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Being an acting coach, Hennigan said, “fills the part of me that acting used to fill.”

“For any artist of any discipline, it’s about that creative instinct we have as humans, the moment of discovery,” Hennigan said. “We are, at our core, explorers. It’s what we do; it’s what makes us significant. I love the discovery that comes in telling a story. Watching that discovery happen for others is very gratifying to me.”

Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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