Tom Sizemore, ‘Heat’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ Actor, Dead at 61
Tom Sizemore, the talented, but troubled, actor who brought a tough guy bravado to films like Heat, Natural Born Killers and Saving Private Ryan, has died at the age of 61, Rolling Stone confirmed.
The actor died Friday after his family made the decision to remove him from life support at a Los Angeles-based hospital.
“It is with great sadness and sorrow I have to announce that actor Thomas Edward Sizemore (‘Tom Sizemore’) aged 61 passed away peacefully in his sleep today at St Joseph’s Hospital Burbank,” his manager Charles Lago said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “His Brother Paul and twin boys Jayden and Jagger were at his side.”
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my big brother Tom,” Paul Sizemore said. “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 actor was found unconscious after suffering a brain aneurysm from a stroke at his Los Angeles home in the early morning of Feb. 19. He was transferred to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank after his collapse, where he remained in critical condition and in a coma under intensive care. On Feb. 27, a rep confirmed that his family was “deciding end of life matters” and that doctors stated that there was no chance for his recovery.
Following a brief role in Oliver Stone’s 1989 anti-war film Born on the Fourth of July, Sizemore seemingly exploded into Hollywood overnight: Within a year, he was acting alongside Robert De Niro in Guilty by Suspicion, Willem Dafoe in Flight of the Intruder, and playing the villain in the 1991 biker flick Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.
In the 1990s and the turn of the millennium alone, the Detroit-born actor and his unique, intimidating big-screen presence was enlisted by big-time directors like Tony Scott (True Romance, Enemy of the State), Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), Ridley Scott (Blackhawk Down), Martin Scorsese (Bringing Out the Dead), Kathryn Bigelow (Blue Steel, Point Break, Strange Days), Michael Mann (Heat) and Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor).
After establishing himself as a supporting actor to the filmmaking elite, Sizemore landed the starring role in the 1997 horror film The Relic, and portrayed both John Gotti and baseball great Pete Rose in the made-for-TV biopics Witness to the Mob and Hustle, respectively. The actor also notably voiced the character of Sonny Forelli in the cult 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
However, Sizemore’s substance abuse issues — he claimed to have been addicted to drugs since he was a teenager — would eventually halt his promising career. The descent itself began in 2003, when he was convicted of domestic abuse against his then-girlfriend, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. Sizemore served seven months in prison, and another four months in a drug rehabilitation center after repeatedly failing drug tests while on probation.
Sizemore’s drug issues with heroin and methamphetamines continued throughout the 2000s, with his attempt to end his addiction the focus of a 2007 docuseries Shooting Sizemore. Three years later, Sizemore would appear on the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab and Celebrity Rehab: Sober House, the latter reuniting him with Fleiss after her restraining order against him ended.
Over the past two decades, Sizemore largely appeared in dozens of direct-to-DVD movies, though in 2017 he was back in front of mainstream audiences thanks to roles in Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House and David Lynch’s Twins Peaks revival. That same year, however, Sizemore pleaded no contest to charges of domestic abuse, and was accused of and sued for molesting an 11-year-old girl on a film set in 2003. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by a judge in 2020.
Despite his off-screen issues, Sizemore’s castmates often spoke glowingly about working with him; De Niro, his Heat co-star, even reportedly paid for one of the actor’s rehab stints. “He’s got that myth about him,” Sizemore’s The Red Road co-star Jason Momoa told Rolling Stone in 2014. “He’s the sweetest guy. I had the greatest scenes with him. He’s super supportive, constantly running lines, and very available. He’s been through so much and he’s so open that he’s not afraid to fall on his face. He doesn’t stop pushing, so it really helps you to do what you need to do. He makes it effortless, and it’s really, really fun to be around that.”
In 2013, Sizemore recounted his personal struggles and his career in a memoir he titled By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There. Lago, Sizemore’s manager, added that there will be a “private cremation service for the family with a larger celebration of life event planned in a few weeks.”