Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor who appeared as Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series, died Saturday at the age of 49.
The actor's family confirmed Troyer's death on Instagram. "It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today," the family wrote.
"Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message everyday. He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude."
“Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him," Troyer's Austin Powers co-star Mike Myers said in a statement. "It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”
While no cause of death was revealed, the family wrote of a "recent time of adversity" the actor faced. "Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles," they wrote. "Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much… Depression and suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another."
One of the world's shortest people – achondroplasia dwarfism caused Troyer to stop growing at 2'8" – Troyer initially entered show business as a stunt person; in 1993, he played the stunt double to the infant in Baby's Day Out.
"In 1993, I was working for Sprint in customer service, and a friend of mine who was the president of LPA – Little People of America – got a phone call from the producers of Baby’s Day Out, and they were wondering if there was anyone close to a stand-in size," Troyer told Hollywood Chicago. "I guess they searched worldwide and couldn’t find anyone. I sent in my picture, and they flew me out to Hollywood to meet with them. Two days later, they offered me the job, and I quit my job at Sprint."
Additional stunt jobs and bit roles in films like Men in Black and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas followed before Troyer broke out in in 1999 with the role of Mini-Me in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, playing a miniature, misbehaving version of Mike Myers' antagonist Dr. Evil. Troyer reprised the role for 2003's Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Troyer would next be cast in films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Love Guru, Bubble Boy and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The actor also made dozens of television and reality TV appearances over the ensuing decades. The actor also hosted his own YouTube channel.
"[Troyer] inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. On film & television sets, commercial shoots, at comic-con’s & personal appearances, to his own YouTube videos, he was there to show everyone what he was capable of doing," the actor's family continued. "Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he’d be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more peoples hearts than he will ever know."
However, in recent years, the actor battled health issues and alcoholism, with Troyer requiring a hospital earlier this month due to alcohol poisoning and suicidal threats. "Asking you to keep Verne in your thoughts and prayers," a person connected to Troyer wrote on Instagram earlier this month. "He’s getting the best care possible and is resting comfortably. Appreciate the support from family, friends, and fans around the world."
Verne Troyer - Mini-Me Fight Scene With Austin Powers
Mike Myers and Verne Troyer - "Just the Two of Us" from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me