BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Tom Sizemore, the “Saving Private Ryan” actor whose bright 1990s stardom burned under the weight of his own domestic violence and drug convictions, died Friday in age 61 years.
The actor had suffered a brain aneurysm on February 18 at his home in Los Angeles. He died in his sleep Friday at a hospital in Burbank, California, his manager Charles Lago said.
Sizemore rose to stardom with acclaimed performances in “Natural Born Killers” and the cult classic thriller “Heat.” But severe substance addiction, allegations of abuse, and multiple run-ins with the law destroyed his career, left him homeless, and sent him to prison.
As the global #MeToo movement peaked in late 2017, Sizemore was also accused of fondling an 11-year-old Utah girl on set in 2003. He called the allegations “deeply troubling,” saying he would never touch a child inappropriately. . No charges were filed.
Despite a host of legal troubles, Sizemore had several solid film and television credits – though his career never regained its momentum. Aside from “Black Hawk Down” and “Pearl Harbor,” most of his roles in the 21st century came in low-budget, little-seen productions where he continued to play the tough, tough guys he became famous for portraying.
“I was a guy who came from very young and rose to the top. I had the multi-million dollar house, the Porsche, the restaurant I part-owned with Robert De Niro,” Detroit-born Sizemore wrote in his 2013 memoir, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There. “And now I had absolutely nothing.”
The book’s title came from a line spoken by his character in “Saving Private Ryan,” a role for which he won an Academy Award. But he wrote that success turned him into a “spoiled movie star”, an “arrogant fool” and eventually “addicted to the hope of dying”.
He made a number of arrests for domestic violence. Sizemore was married once, to actress Maeve Quinlan, and was arrested on suspicion of battering her in 1997. While the charges were dropped, the couple divorced in 1999.
Sizemore was convicted of abusing ex-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss in 2003 — the same year he pleaded no contest and avoided trial in a separate abuse case — and was sentenced to prison. The former Hollywood madam testified that he punched her in the jaw at a Beverly Hills hotel and beat her up in New York to the point that they couldn’t attend the premiere of “Black Hawk Down.”
The sentencing judge said drug use was likely a catalyst, but the testimony had revealed a man who had deep problems with women. Fleiss called Sizemore a “zero” in a conversation with The Associated Press after his sentencing.
Sizemore apologized in a letter, saying he was “punished” and that “personal demons” had taken over his life, although he later denied abusing her and accused her of faking a photo showing her bruises.
Fleiss also sued Sizemore, saying she suffered emotional distress after he threatened to revoke her own probation. Fleiss was convicted in 1994 of running a high-priced call-girl ring. That lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.
Sizemore was the subject of two workplace sexual harassment lawsuits related to the 2002 CBS show “Robbery Homicide Division,” in which he played a police detective. He was only arrested in 2016 for another domestic violence case.
Sizemore ended up in prison from August 2007 to January 2009 because he failed several drug tests while on probation, and after Bakersfield, California, authorities found methamphetamine in his car.
“God is trying to tell me that he doesn’t want me to use drugs because every time I do I get caught,” Sizemore told The Bakersfield Californian in a prison interview.
Sizemore told the AP in 2013 that he believed his addiction was related to the trappings of success. He struggled to keep his emotional composure as he described a low point looking in the mirror: “I looked like I was 100 years old. I had nothing to do with my children. I had no business to speak of. I was living in occupation.”
He appeared on the reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab” and its spinoff “Sober House,” telling the AP that he did the shows to get help, but also in part to pay off accumulated debt that ran into the millions.
Many of Sizemore’s later films have had a sci-fi, horror or action bent: In 2022 alone, he starred in films with titles like ‘Impuratus’, ‘Night of the Tommyknockers’ and ‘Vampfather’. But Sizemore still had some top roles — including the “Twin Peaks” revival — and guest spots on popular shows like “Entourage” and “Hawaii Five-O.”
A stuntman sued Sizemore and Paramount Pictures in 2016, saying he was injured when the allegedly drunk actor ran over him on the set of USA’s “Shooter.” State records obtained by the AP showed that Sizemore was supposed to be sitting alone in the stationary car and that he “improvised at the end of the scene and drove away in his car.” Sizemore was fired from “Shooter” and the stuntman’s lawsuit was settled under undisclosed terms.
In addition to his film and television credits, he was part of the voice cast for the 2002 video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” He also taught classes at the LA West Acting Studio, according to recent advertisements.
He is survived by his 17-year-old twin sons, Jayden and Jagger, and his brother Paul, who were all by his side when he died.
“I’ve led an interesting life, but I can’t tell you what I’d give to be the guy you knew nothing about,” Sizemore wrote in his memoir.