Tom Sizemore, Saving Private Ryan actor, dead at 61

Tom Sizemore, the Saving Private Ryan actor whose bright 1990s star burned out under the weight of his own domestic violence and drug convictions, died Friday at age 61.

Actor had suffered a brain aneurysm on Feb. 18 at his home in Los Angeles

A man smiles as he looks directly into the camera.
A 2013 photo shows Tom Sizemore in New York. The actor died in his sleep Friday at a hospital in Burbank, Calif., his manager said. (John Carucci/The Associated Press)

Tom Sizemore, the Saving Private Ryan actor whose bright 1990s star burned out under the weight of his own domestic violence and drug convictions, died Friday at age 61.

The actor had suffered a brain aneurysm on Feb. 18 at his home in Los Angeles. He died in his sleep Friday at a hospital in Burbank, Calif., his manager Charles Lago said.

Sizemore became a star with acclaimed appearances in Natural Born Killers and the cult-classic crime thriller Heat. But serious substance dependency, abuse allegations and multiple run-ins with the law devastated his career, left him homeless and sent him to jail.

As the global #MeToo movement wave crested in late 2017, Sizemore was also accused of groping an 11-year-old Utah girl on set in 2003. He called the allegations "highly disturbing," saying he would never inappropriately touch a child. Charges were not filed.

Steady credits despite legal trouble

Despite the raft of legal trouble, Sizemore had scores of steady film and television credits — though his career never regained its onetime momentum. Aside from Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor, most of his 21st-century roles came in low-budget, little-seen productions where he continued to play the gruff, tough guys he became famous for portraying.

"I was a guy who'd come from very little and risen to the top. I'd had the multimillion-dollar house, the Porsche, the restaurant I partially owned with Robert De Niro," the Detroit-born Sizemore wrote in his 2013 memoir, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There. "And now I had absolutely nothing."

The book's title was taken from a line uttered by his character in Saving Private Ryan, a role for which he garnered Oscar buzz. But he wrote that success turned him into a "spoiled movie star," an "arrogant fool" and eventually "a hope-to-die addict."

A man in a baseball cap that says "HOOAH!" salutes.
Sizemore salutes in honour of Memorial Day, a day early, at the Mexican-American All Wars Memorial in Los Angeles on May 29, 2011. (Nick Ut/The Associated Press)

He racked up a string of domestic violence arrests. Sizemore was married once, to actor Maeve Quinlan, and was arrested on suspicion of beating her in 1997. While the charges were dropped, the couple divorced in 1999.

Sizemore was convicted of abusing ex-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss in 2003 — the same year he pleaded no contest and avoided trial in a separate abuse case — and sentenced to jail. The former Hollywood madam testified that he had punched her in the jaw at a Beverly Hills hotel, and beaten her in New York to the point where they couldn't attend the Black Hawk Down premiere.

The sentencing judge said drug abuse was likely a catalyst but that testimony had revealed a man who had deep problems dealing with women. Fleiss called Sizemore "a zero" in a conversation with The Associated Press after his conviction.

Subject of 2 sexual harassment lawsuits at CBS show

Sizemore apologized in a letter, saying he was "chastened" and that "personal demons" had taken over his life, though he later denied abusing her and accused her of faking a picture showing her bruises.

Fleiss also sued Sizemore, saying she suffered emotional distress after he threatened to get her own probation revoked. Fleiss had been convicted in 1994 of running a high-priced call-girl ring. That lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.

Sizemore was the subject of two workplace sexual harassment lawsuits related to the 2002 CBS show Robbery Homicide Division, in which he played a police detective. He was arrested as recently as 2016 in another domestic violence case.

Two middle-aged men holding microphones sing under stage lights.
Dan Aykroyd, right, and Sizemore sing Mustang Sally during a party aboard the USS John C. Stennis, after the premiere of Disney's film Pearl Harbor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 2001. (Kevork Djansezian/The Associated Press)

Sizemore ended up jailed from August 2007 to January 2009 for failing numerous drug tests while on probation and after Bakersfield, Calif., authorities found methamphetamine in his car.

"God's trying to tell me he doesn't want me using drugs because every time I use them I get caught," Sizemore told The Bakersfield Californian in a jailhouse interview.

Sizemore told the AP in 2013 that he believed his dependency was related to the trappings of success. He struggled to maintain his emotional composure as he described a low point looking in the mirror: "I looked like I was 100 years old. I had no relationship with my kids; I had no work to speak of. I was living in squat."

Appeared on Celebrity Rehab

He appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Rehab and its spinoff Sober House, telling the AP that he did the shows to receive help, but also partly to pay off accumulated debts that ran into the millions.

Many of Sizemore's later-career films had a sci-fi, horror or action bent. In 2022 alone, he starred in movies with such titles as ImpuratusNight of the Tommyknockers and Vampfather. But Sizemore still nabbed a few meaty roles — including in the Twin Peaks revival — and guest spots on popular shows like Entourage and Hawaii Five-O.

A stuntman sued Sizemore and Paramount Pictures in 2016, saying he was injured when the allegedly intoxicated actor ran him over while filming USA's Shooter. State records obtained by the AP showed that Sizemore was only supposed to be sitting in the unmoving car and that he "improvised at the end of the scene and drove away in his car." Sizemore was fired from Shooter and the stuntman's lawsuit was settled on undisclosed terms.

In addition to his film and TV credits, he was part of the voice cast for 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game. He also taught classes at the LA West Acting Studio, according to recent advertisements.

He is survived by his 17-year-old twin sons, Jayden and Jagger, and his brother Paul, all of whom were by his side when he died.

"I've led an interesting life, but I can't tell you what I'd give to be the guy you didn't know anything about," Sizemore wrote in his memoir.