Actress Lisa Spoonauer, best known for playing Caitlin Bree in director Kevin Smith's 1994 indie classic Clerks, has passed away at 44. No cause of death was revealed, but Kevin Smith took to social media to issue a touching tribute to the actress, who made her feature film debut in Clerks after the director discovered her at a local New Jersey college. Here's the first half of the director's statement below, where he reveals how he cast her in Clerks.

"Devastated to report that #LisaSpoonauer, who played Caitlin in #clerks, has passed away. In 1992, I went looking for Lisa without knowing either who she was or the integral role she'd play in my life. I'd held a night of open auditions at the #firstavenueplayhouse (where we found @briancohalloran and @marilynghigliotti) but the perfect Caitlin Bree never walked through the door. So I popped into an acting class at Brookdale Community College and watched the students from the back. Lisa was easily the most natural and authentic voice in the room. 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.'"

After Clerks, the late actress only appeared in one other film, 1997's Bartender, although she returned to voice her Caitlin Bree character in one episode of Clerks: The Animated Series. She ended up marrying her Clerks co-star Jeff Anderson in 1998, but they divorced just a year later in 1999. According to an obituary posted by the Hassler Funeral Home in New Jersey, she went on to become a restaurant manager and event planner. Here's what Kevin Smith had to say in the remainder of his Instagram post below.

"A complete stranger at first, Lisa quickly became one of the most important people I'd ever meet when she joined Brian, #JeffAnderson, Marilyn, @jaymewes, @samosier, @davidkleinasc and me as one of the chief architects of my first film. We rehearsed for a month straight in the store after hours, where Lisa perfected Caitlin (and fell in love with Jeff). The first night of the shoot, Lisa had to maneuver her way through a seven minute scene with Brian in the video store, when Caitlin finally shows up in the movie. Lisa and Brian CRUSHED it in one long take that still remains one of my favorite scenes I've ever shot, not because it shows off any directorial flare (it doesn't) but because it exemplified how great the performers were since we never had to cut away from their 2-shot. But as strong an actress as she was, Lisa was an even more excellent Mother to her daughter Mia. Whenever we'd Facebook later in life, she'd gush about her baby girl proudly. My heart goes out to Tom, Mia and Lisa's family. Thank you for dreaming my dream with me. You changed my life, Lisa."

Lisa Spoonauer is survived by her husband, Tom Caron, her daughter Mia Spoonauer and her stepson, Tyler Caron. It isn't clear if a cause of death will be announced at a later date or not. Take a look at director Kevin Smith's tweet and Instagram post about the passing of his Clerks star Lisa Spoonauer

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