BURBANK, California– Tom Sizemore, the Saving Private Ryan actor whose 1990s bright star was burning out under the weight of his own domestic violence and drug convictions, died Friday at the age of 61.
The actor suffered a brain aneurysm at his home in Los Angeles on February 18. He died in his sleep on Friday at a hospital in Burbank, California, his manager Charles Lago said.
Sizemore rose to stardom with acclaimed performances in Natural Born Killers and cult crime thriller Heat. But heavy drug addiction, abuse allegations and multiple run-ins with the law ruined his career, left him homeless and sent him to prison.
As the global #MeToo movement peaked in late 2017, Sizemore was also accused of groping an 11-year-old Utah girl on set in 2003. He called the allegations “highly disturbing” and said he would never touch a child inappropriately. Charges were not brought.
Despite the many legal troubles, Sizemore had numerous film and television credits — though his career never regained its former momentum. Aside from “Black Hawk Down” and “Pearl Harbor,” he played most of his 21st-century roles in underappreciated, low-budget productions, in which he continued to play the rugged, tough guys he became famous for portraying.
“I was a guy who came from a young age and rose to the top. I had the multimillion-dollar house, the Porsche, the restaurant I owned part-time 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 comes from a line uttered by his character in Saving Private Ryan, a role for which he received Oscar raves. But he wrote that success had turned him into a “spoiled movie star,” an “arrogant fool,” and eventually a “hope-to-die addict.”
He has amassed a string of arrests for domestic violence. Sizemore was once married to actor Maeve Quinlan and was arrested in 1997 on suspicion of hitting her. While the charges were dropped, the couple divorced in 1999.
Sizemore was convicted of abusing his ex-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss in 2003 — that same year he pleaded no appeal and avoided trial in a separate abuse case — and was sentenced to prison. The former Hollywood woman testified that he punched her in the jaw at a Beverly Hills hotel and beat her so badly in New York that they couldn’t attend the premiere of Black Hawk Down.
The sentencing judge said drug abuse was likely a trigger, but that testimony revealed a man who had serious problems dealing with women. Fleiss called Sizemore “a zero” in an interview with The Associated Press after his conviction.
Sizemore apologized in a letter, saying he had been “chastised” and that “personal demons” had taken over his life, although he later denied molesting her and accused her of faking a picture showing her bruises .
Fleiss also sued Sizemore, saying she suffered emotional distress after he threatened to have her own parole revoked. Fleiss was convicted in 1994 for running a high-priced call girl ring. This 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 arrested in another domestic violence case as recently as 2016.
Sizemore was jailed from August 2007 to January 2009 for failing numerous drug tests while on parole and after authorities in Bakersfield, California found methamphetamine in his car.
“God is trying to tell me that he doesn’t want me to do drugs because every time I do, I get caught,” Sizemore said in a prison interview with The Bakersfield Californian.
Sizemore told the AP in 2013 that he believes his addiction is related to the pitfalls of success. Struggling to maintain his emotional composure, he described a rock bottom as he looked in the mirror: “I looked like I was 100 years old. I didn’t have a relationship with my children; I had no work to speak to. I lived in squats.”
He has appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Rehab and its spinoff Sober House, and told the AP he did the shows to get help, but also in part to pay off accumulated debts that he was in the millions went.
Many of Sizemore’s later career films had sci-fi, horror, or action leanings: in 2022 alone, he starred in films titled “Impuratus,” “Night of the Tommyknockers,” and “Vampfather.” But Sizemore still snagged a few meaty roles — including in the revival of Twin Peaks — 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 him over while filming “Shooter” in the US. State records obtained by the AP showed that Sizemore was only supposed to be in the stationary car and that he “improvised at the end of the scene and drove off in his car.” Sizemore was fired from Shooter and the stuntman’s lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.
In addition to his film and TV appearances, he was part of the voice cast for the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. According to recent advertisements, he also taught at the LA West Acting Studio.
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 lived an interesting life, but I can’t tell you what I would give to be the guy you don’t know about,” Sizemore wrote in his memoir.