Tom Sizemore, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ actor, dies after brain aneurysm
The actor was known also known for “True Romance,” “Black Hawk Down” and "Heat."
LOS ANGELES — Actor Tom Sizemore, known for his work in films such as “Saving Private Ryan,” “True Romance” and “Black Hawk Down,” has died at 61 after a brain aneurysm.
Sizemore died Friday at a hospital in Burbank, according to his manager, Charles Lago. The actor had been taken to the intensive-care unit of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank on Feb. 18, where he was listed in critical condition and remained in a coma.
Earlier this week, Lago released a statement on behalf of the “Heat” actor’s kin: “Doctors informed his family that there is no further hope and have recommended end-of-life decision.”
Lago said in a statement that Sizemore “passed away peacefully in his sleep ... at St Joseph’s Hospital Burbank. His brother Paul and twin boys Jayden and Jagger were at his side.”
In 1998, Sizemore starred opposite Tom Hanks and Matt Damon in Steven Spielberg‘s Oscar-winning World War II drama “Saving Private Ryan.” Sizemore portrayed Capt. Miller’s (Hanks) right-hand man, Sgt. Mike Horvath, a loyal and courageous soldier who delivers the movie’s titular line and keeps souvenirs from each military tour he’s completed.
Sizemore accepted the career-altering role of Horvath on a whim. He was just about to start shooting Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line” in Australia when Spielberg called and asked him, “Do you want to go to Australia with Terry Malick or do you want to come to Great Britain and Ireland with me and Tom Hanks?”
“I told him I wanted to go to Great Britain and Ireland,” he said in 2018.
“It was a seminal experience for me because it was like being invited behind the curtain of Oz. Steven and his crew were operating on a total different level than I had ever witnessed,” he added, “the scope of his vision, the attention to detail was beyond anything I had ever dreamed of.”
Born Nov. 29, 1961, Thomas Edward Sizemore Jr. grew up in Detroit. His father was a lawyer and professor and his mother an ombudsman for the city.
“I was a tough kid,” Sizemore recalled in 1995. “I don’t punch people anymore.”
Eventually, Sizemore’s family relocated to the suburbs until his parents got a divorce, and the children moved back to Detroit with their mother. By the age of 16, Sizemore “wanted to get on with” his life.
“I knew I wanted to be an actor,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “I wanted to get out of Detroit.”
After attending Wayne State University, Sizemore earned a master’s degree in theater from Temple University and moved to New York City to pursue acting. His first break came when Oliver Stone cast him for a small role in “Born on the Fourth of July.”
Sizemore played tough-guy roles throughout the 1990s in films such as “Natural Born Killers,” “Wyatt Earp” and “Heat” and later had a recurring role in the television series “China Beach.” In 2000, he received a Golden Globe nomination for his leading performance as a former mobster on the run in the TV movie “Witness Protection.” He also had a starring role in the high-profile military drama “Black Hawk Down.”
Outside his film and TV work, Sizemore also dabbled in theater. At Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse in 2011, he staged a private reading of his one-man show, “I Am Not Sam,” that explored his biracial identity. During the performance, he adopted the voice of his Black grandfather, who warned him to never reveal his biracial heritage if he wanted to make it in Hollywood.
“I hate this stuff,” Sizemore said as people gathered to congratulate him after the reading. “I’m going to leave in a second.”
Sizemore accumulated more than 200 acting credits spanning movies, video games, theater and TV. His final role was as a doctor in the 2022 comedy series “Barbee Rehab.”
Throughout his career, Sizemore was often in the headlines for his run-ins with law enforcement. In 2003, he was convicted of abusing his girlfriend, Heidi Fleiss, and served 17 months in jail.
During his trial, Sizemore’s attorneys denied Fleiss’ allegations and accused her of trying to blackmail him. He was found guilty of domestic violence, criminal threats and harassing phone calls.
He was also arrested once on suspicion of assaulting another girlfriend in downtown L.A. and twice on suspicion of battery of a former spouse. Additionally, he was formerly detained on suspicion of transporting or selling a controlled substance, and he pleaded no contest in 2006 to using methamphetamine outside a Bakersfield motel.
Sizemore was open about his struggles with drug addiction — once even volunteering to detox on national television by participating in a season of the VH1 reality series, “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.”
Appearing on “Larry King Live” in 2010, Sizemore told the late TV host that he became addicted to cocaine after using the drug for the first time with “a famous actor” when his Hollywood dreams were starting to come true. He also struggled with addiction to heroin and crystal meth.
“If I didn’t do it, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t get out of bed,” Sizemore told King. “But I got no pleasure from it, and it was destroying my career. ... I’m an actor. I’ve been acting for 30 years, and I wasn’t doing it anymore. I didn’t have any money. ... I was fairly hopeless.”
In 2011, Sizemore announced that he would write a book about his experiences with “substance abuse.” He released his memoir, “By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There,” in 2013.
“The fact that I’m now sober over two years — and that I’m acting as much as I did before — proves that people can overcome obstacles even when they’re sure they can’t,” Sizemore said ahead of the book’s release.
Sizemore is survived by his 17-year-old twin sons, Jagger and Jayden.
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