US actor Tom Sizemore, best known for his work in Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, has passed away at the age of 61, according to his publicist.
Sizemore rose to prominence in the 1990s by frequently portraying tough guys in supporting roles—typically, the military, police, or criminals. Heat, Pearl Harbor, and Natural Born Killers were among his other filmography accomplishments. But he also struggled with substance abuse and spent time in prison for domestic abuse.
Sizemore had been in a coma since suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm on 18 February. His manager, Charles Lago, said he died on Friday at a hospital in Burbank, California, with his brother Paul and twin boys Jayden and Jagger, 17, at his side.
“The Sizemore family has been comforted by the hundreds of messages of support,” Lago said. He said Sizemore’s sons were devastated, and asked that their privacy be respected.
His brother, Paul Sizemore, said: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my big brother Tom. He was larger than life. He has influenced my life more than anyone I know.
“He was talented, loving, giving and could keep you entertained endlessly with his wit and storytelling ability.”
Sizemore, who was raised in a working-class neighborhood of Detroit, earned a master’s degree in drama before getting his big break in 1989 with a small role in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July.
Larger parts in dramas from the 1990s like Tony Scott’s True Romance, Devil in a Blue Dress (with Denzel Washington), and Wyatt Earp (with Kevin Costner) resulted from that work.
Stone cast him again in the controversial Natural Born Killers as the violent Detective Jack Scagnetti; and he played a henchman to Robert De Niro’s criminal in Heat.
In the Oscar-winning film Saving Private Ryan in 1998, he was at Tom Hanks’ side as the loyal Sergeant Horvath. Sizemore supplied the voice of mafia boss Sonny Forelli in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as a mobster in the 1999 television film Witness Protection.
He wrote in his autobiography about his addictions to heroin and crystal meth, which came along with celebrity and wealth and a serious drug habit.
He recounted how De Niro pushed him into one of his stints in rehab in 1995, telling Sizemore he would have him “arrested for heroin possession” if he didn’t go into a treatment centre. Sizemore chose rehab.
When Saving Private Ryan came along, director Steven Spielberg reportedly threatened to fire the actor at the first sign of drug use and reshoot the film without him.
Sizemore, however, had trouble staying tidy. Other “personal monsters” were also present. He was detained in 1997 on allegations of assaulting his tennis player and actress wife Maeve Quinlan. Two years afterward, they separated.
In 2003, he was sentenced to six months in prison for beating up his girlfriend, the former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, and was ordered to complete more rehab and anger management.
Ms Fleiss testified that he had also stubbed a cigarette out on her, knocked her to the ground outside his home, and made more than 70 obscenity-laced phone calls.
He said at the time that he had “permitted my personal demons to take over my life”.
In 2005, he went back to jail for violating his probation by failing a drug test, after being caught trying to use a prosthetic penis to fake the results. According to prosecutors, Sizemore had been caught once before trying to use a similar device.
Two years later, he was sentenced to 16 months for violating the terms of his probation, and was also arrested for driving under the influence.
“I was a guy who’d come from very little and risen to the top,” Sizemore wrote in his 2013 autobiography.
“I’d had the multimillion-dollar house, the Porsche, the restaurant I partially owned with Robert De Niro. And now I had absolutely nothing.”
“I’ve led an interesting life,” he wrote. “But I can’t tell you what I’d give to be the guy you didn’t know anything about.”
Shooting Sizemore, a documentary series that premiered in 2007, followed Sizemore’s battle to reclaim his life and profession.
While he was never able to recapture the roles he had in the 1990s, he did recently star in the Netflix hit Cobra Kai and the 2017 revival of David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks.
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