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Tom Sizemore, who faced legal troubles and drug addiction amid a career that saw him star as Sgt. Mike Horvath in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and portray cops, crooks and psychopaths with the best of them, died Friday. He was 61.
Sizemore died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, his rep Charles Lago announced. The actor had suffered a stroke and brain aneurysm at his Los Angeles home in the early hours of Feb. 18, and with doctors saying there was “no further hope,” family members made an end-of-life decision.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my big brother Tom,” Paul Sizemore said in a statement. “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. I am devastated he is gone and will miss him always.”
The Detroit-born actor with a tough-guy sheen also played a serial-killer expert in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994); Michael Cheritto, a member of Robert De Niro’s gang, in the classic Michael Mann heist film Heat (1995); the Chicago cop Vincent D’Agosta in Peter Hyams’ The Relic (1997); and private investigator Max Peltier in Strange Days (1995), one of three films he made for director Kathryn Bigelow.
De Niro’s rep shared a statement from the actor with THR on Sunday, saying, “I am very sorry to hear about Tom’s passing. He was [a] wonderful actor, and I had great affection for him.”
Sizemore’s résumé included lots of other notable films, Lawrence Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp (1994), Carl Franklin’s Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001) and Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor (2001) among them.
In 2003, Sizemore was accused of molesting an 11-year-old actress while filming Natural Born Killers in Utah. He would deny those allegations when they were initially made public by The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, calling them false and “so disturbing that I feel compelled to go against my legal team’s advice and speak out.”
He was eventually allowed to return to the film for reshoots months later in Malibu, with THR reporting that the city district attorney declined to file formal charges “due to witness and evidence problems.” Following the allegations, producers confirmed to THR that Sizemore had been dropped from the horror film The Doors.
Those allegations resurfaced in 2018 when the then-26-year-old actress who accused him of sexually assaulting her as a child on the Killers set filed a lawsuit against Sizemore seeking $3 million in damages. A rep for Sizemore again denied the accusations, and in 2020, a Utah judge would dismiss the suit.
Within his 2017 denial, Sizemore admitted that he had “battled substance abuse and related demons for years,” with several stays in rehab and drug possession charges in 2019 and 2007, the latter of which resulted in a 16-month prison sentence that was reduced to nine months. (He spent time in solitary confinement in Chino State Prison.)
Sizemore appeared in 2010-11 on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew and its spinoff Sober House with his onetime partner, “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss, whom Sizemore had been convicted of physically abusing and harassing in 2003.
Following the ’03 conviction, the actor was arrested on suspected battery in 2009 and 2011 and in July 2016 pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of domestic abuse for assaulting his girlfriend. That would result in 36 months of summary probation and two protective orders associated with the charges.
Sizemore detailed much of this in his 2016 memoir, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There, along with his attempt to die by suicide.
The older of two sons, Thomas Edward Sizemore Jr. was born in Detroit on Nov. 29, 1961, and raised early on in Corktown, near Tiger Stadium. His father, Thomas Sr., was a corporate lawyer and his mother, Judith, worked for the city.
He said his dad and uncle took him to see the De Niro-starring Taxi Driver when he was 14, and the film convinced him to pursue acting as a career.
“There was something about the alienation and beauty of actors like Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and James Dean that captivated me,” he wrote in his memoir. “Still, it was more than reverence that I had for them; I somehow already identified with them and saw myself being at their level. … My life had always felt heightened to a degree.”
Sizemore graduated from Utica High School, then earned a degree in theater from Wayne State University, where his father taught classes, and a master’s in performance art from Temple University.
Sizemore came to Los Angeles and landed small parts in the 1989 films Born on the Fourth of July — his first film with Stone — Lock Up, Rude Awakening and Penn & Teller Get Killed.
After recurring as a romantic interest of Dana Delany’s character on ABC’s China Beach in 1989-90 and appearing for Bigelow in Blue Steel (1990) and Point Break (1991), Sizemore portrayed a gay serial killer in Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (1992) and cops in Tony Scott‘s True Romance (1993) and Natural Born Killers (1994), both written by Quentin Tarantino.
Playing Det. Jack Scagnetti in Natural Born Killers marked a turning point, he noted in an April interview.
“My first day shooting with Tommy Lee Jones,” he recalled, “Oliver Stone came over to me and said, ‘Before we start today, I want to let you know that I’m making a table and I got three good legs and I need another leg, and you’re that leg. You’re not going to wobble, are you?’
“It didn’t instill a lot of confidence in me. I said, ‘I don’t have any intention to wobble.’ That was my introduction to the uncompromising way to make movies.”
Soon after finishing Heat, De Niro staged an intervention over Sizemore’s heroin use and arranged for him to enter rehab, he told The Independent in 1998.
“I watched this guy [De Niro] in the dark when I was 14 and wondered who he was. And here he is,” he recalled. “I’m in his car and he’s driving me to the airport, he’s telling me that the gig is up, he’s telling me I’m a wonderful actor, that he’s not gonna let me die. ‘I love you,’ he told me, ‘like you’re my son.’ I didn’t wanna go. But I couldn’t say no to him.”
He became a leading man for the first time in the horror film The Relic, then sparkled as the heroic Horvath opposite Tom Hanks in the Oscar best picture nominee Saving Private Ryan (1998).
He reunited with Tony Scott with an uncredited role in Enemy of the State (1998), then worked on Play It to the Bone (1999), Red Planet (2001) and Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher (2003).
Sizemore continued to get work, albeit on fewer high-profile projects, as his personal problems intensified. He appeared on episodes of The Red Road, Hawaii Five-0, CSI: Miami, Law & Order: SVU, Cobra Kai, Twin Peaks, Entourage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shooter and Lucifer and provided voice-overs for such games as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and 24: The Game.
Sizemore also wrote a 2007 episode of Head Case and appeared as himself on two installments of the Starz series, which centered on Alexandra Wentworth’s Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a therapist to Hollywood stars.
He has a whopping 230 acting credits on IMDb, plus another 33 credits in projects that have yet to be released.
Sizemore was married to Maeve Quinlan from 1996-99. Survivors include his children, twins Jayden and Jagger (born in 2005), with Janelle McIntire.
“Tom Sizemore has been called many things,” reads the back cover of his memoir. “Brilliant. Brutal. Fiercely talented. Angry. Drug addicted. In reality, he’s all of them.”
A celebration of life event will be held in the coming weeks.
Gary Baum contributed to this report.
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