Tom Sizemore, The Brilliant But Troubled Actor From ‘Heat,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ And More, Is Being Honored After His Passing

Tom Sizemore, the brilliant but troubled character actor who was a staple of Hollywood cinema in the ‘90s and early aughts, passed away on Friday after suffering a stroke caused by an aneurysm. He had been in a coma since February 18 and had been kept alive on life support. He was 61.

A go-to tough guy type who played characters on both sides of the law, Sizemore began his film career in the late ‘80s, in his late 20s, appearing in small roles in movies like Oliver Stone’s Born in the Fourth of July. Sizemore would reunite with Stone five years later, as the loose cannon detective in Natural Born Killers. Even with brief screen time, he knew how to make an impression. In his brief appearance in 1991’s Point Break, he makes a meal out of chewing out Keanu Reeves’ undercover agent Johnny Utah.

If you went to the movies in the mid-to-late ‘90s, it was all but impossible to avoid Sizemore. His wild, unpredictable work was a highlight of movies like Passenger 57, True Romance, Strange Days, Devil in a Blue Dress, and many more.

At the peak of his career, Sizemore worked with the best: Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), Martin Scorsese (Bringing Out the Dead), Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down). Michael Mann cast him in his crime epic Heat, in which he held his own as part of the gang of thieves led by Robert De Niro’s Neil McCauley, contributing one of screen history’s great ice cold stares. Mann later cast him as the lead in TV’s Robbery Homicide Division, which lasted one season starting in 2002.

Throughout his career, Sizemore struggled with serious drug problems, using heroin, crystal meth, methamphetamines, and cocaine. He told Larry King in a 2010 interview that he’d been sober from 1997 through 2002. At the time, he said he’d been clean for nearly a year. He was in an out of rehab and placed on probation for drug possession. He later served jail time violating said probation.

Sizemore had other issues as well. In 2003, he was convicted of physically abusing Heidi Fleiss, the notorious Hollywood madam of an upscale prostitution ring who was also his girlfriend. He served eight months in prison. In 2003, he was accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old, which he denied. Those accusations resurfaced in 2017. He again denied them.

As these stories broke, Sizemore’s career faltered, and he found himself going from working with the best of the best to low-rent fare made on the outskirts of the film industry. He occasionally slipped back into the mainstream. He had a plum role in the Liam Neeson-starring Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. TV was more welcoming, with stints on Entourage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Hawaii 5-0, Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit, Lucifer, and Shooter, on which he was a recurring cast member. David Lynch gave him a moving role on Twin Peaks: The Return, as a shady corporate type who finds redemption with Kyle MacLachlan’s sympathetic Dougie Jones.

Sizemore was a complicated figure, singularly talented yet deeply troubled. After his passing, he was honored by others in the industry.

Some remembered his storied ‘90s and early aughts run, when he seemed to be in every four movies.

Others shared their favorite moments from his career.

(Via NYT)