Tom Sizemore, who often played tough guy roles in a career dating back to the ’80s and who, in real life, struggled with addiction and a string of legal issues, died Friday, almost two weeks after suffering a brain aneurysm, as the result of a stroke. He had been hospitalized in critical condition and remained in a coma and in intensive care since then. He was 61.
His manager, Charles Lago, told Yahoo Entertainment 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.”
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my big brother Tom,” Paul Sizemore said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. “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.”
Sizemore’s ex-wife, actress Maevee Quinlin, offered “my heartfelt condolences to the entire Sizemore family. … Most especially, my thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s two sons, Jayden and Jagger. May God hold you both in the palm of his hand, give you strength and bless you all the days of your lives.”
The news comes four days after Lago told Yahoo that Sizemore’s medical team had informed the family “there is no further hope and have recommended end of life decision.”
“We are asking for privacy for his family during this difficult time and they wish to thank everyone for the hundreds of messages of support, and prayers that have been received,” Lago said. “This has been a difficult time for them.”
There will be a private cremation service for the family with a larger celebration of life event planned in a few weeks.
Sizemore is best known for action movies and crime dramas, including Saving Private Ryan, where he played Sgt. Horvath, as well as Black Hawk Down, Passenger 57, Heat, True Romance, Natural Born Killers, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Relic and Strange Days. On TV, he played a recurring role on the third season of China Beach that aired in 1989 and 1990; co-starred in the 2017 Twin Peaks revival; and headlined the 1999 TV movie Witness Protection, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination.
The Detroit native said he fell in love with movies as a kid when his mother, a movie buff, began taking him and his siblings to the triple feature the local theater showed on Saturdays. His mind was blown when he first saw The Wizard of Oz on a TV channel for classic movies.
“When we saw a movie called Beckett, with Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton, I guess I was probably 11 or 12, and … I didn’t understand the movie so much as I got that the relationship between Burton and O’Toole was special, and I got into the drama of that,” he told Decider in May 2022. “And then a few years later, when I was 14, I saw Taxi Driver. And that was the first time I remember wanting to know who the actor was, who the person was playing this part. I was so taken with the Travis Bickle character (played by Robert De Niro) that I wanted to know, ‘Who’s the guy doing this?’ And I got obsessed with it. I saw that movie every week for, like, two months when it was playing in the theater. I saw it 11 weeks in a row. That’s when I first started thinking, ‘Whatever that is they’re doing up there, I want to be part of it. I want to do that.’ And I started to figure out how to become an actor, and I started doing some investigating, and my mother helped me.”
Sizemore began his own career with small roles in Born on the Fourth of July and Point Break and spent the ’90s mostly in action movies, although he did something different with the romance Heart and Souls in 1993, in which he played one of Robert Downey Jr.’s guardian angels.
His on-screen work was dwarfed, however, by the drama in his personal life, which included drugs and arrests, which he wrote about in his 2013 memoir, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There. He said that, for a time, alcohol helped him cope with his success, but it soon wasn’t enough.
“People could tell if you were drunk, so then I was like, ‘Hey, look, let me find a drug where I feel comfortable in my own skin,'” he told the AP while promoting it. “But I did. I found a drug and it was called cocaine. I did it for a while. Then I found an even better drug and it was called heroin.”
He later found crystal meth.
After working with De Niro, his childhood idol, on Heat, De Niro confronted Sizemore about his drug use and took him to rehab himself. His sobriety was only temporary, though, and he faced more than one arrest over the years on charges of drug possession and more legal woes for violating his probation.
Sizemore was also accused of domestic abuse, including against Quinlin, whom he was married to from 1996 to 1999. In 2003, he was convicted of physically abusing his former girlfriend Heidi Fleiss.
In 2005, he found himself the subject of a sex tape, which he called “the maraschino cherry on the banana split of bad luck I’ve been having.”
Sizemore’s career status suffered, and he starred in a VH1 reality show, Shooting Sizemore, about his attempted comeback in 2006. That was followed by turns a few years later in the network’s Celebrity Rehab and Sober House, alongside Fleiss and other minor celebrities.
In 2017, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Sizemore had been removed from a film set in 2003 for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl, who then filed a civil lawsuit against the actor. While he expressed sympathy for his accuser, Sizemore denied touching her inappropriately, and the lawsuit was dismissed in 2020.
Career-wise, Sizemore’s later work was similar to his earlier projects, although not as high-profile. According to IMDb, he still had many in the works, including a dozen in post-production. Among them were an episode of Cobra Kai; horror movie Book of Nightmares, with Michael Madsen and Bai Ling; and action thriller The Legend of Johnny Jones, in which he was going to costar alongside Danny Trejo and Kevin Sorbo.
Lago told Yahoo that over the past few years Sizemore “was getting his life back to a great place. He loved his sons and his family.” He called Sizemore “one of the most sincere, kind and generous human beings I have had the pleasure of knowing” and said the actor’s “courage and determination through adversity was always an inspiration to me.”
Sizemore is survived by his twin sons, Jayden and Jagger, 17, from his relationship with Janelle McIntire. Lago told Yahoo that “the twins are devastated by the loss of their father and will release a statement at a later time.”