Inside Tom Sizemore's Tumultuous Life And Career

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The following article includes references to addiction, mental health issues, and allegations of domestic violence and child sexual abuse.

Tom Sizemore is a legendary American actor, best known for his roles in films like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Natural Born Killers." Unfortunately, this star is also known for his tumultuous personal life — from a longtime struggle with addiction to run-ins with the law, and even being kicked off of a film set over serious allegations. 

The Michigan-born actor had humble beginnings, growing up with five younger siblings, a lawyer-professor father, and a city ombudsman staff member mother. Having shared a close bond with mom Judith, Sizemore once admitted that the worst part about dealing with his excessive drug use was being honest with her about it back in the '90s. In 2017, he recalled to the Daily Mail, "It's hard to think about how much I disappointed her, although she never said one word to me, she never said Tommy you let me down, or Tommy you made me unhappy. My mom has never said a bad word to me my entire life."

Meanwhile, Sizemore proudly studied theatre at Wayne State University in his home state and later at Temple University. After earning his master's degree in 1986, he subsequently moved to New York City and worked survival jobs while beginning his career. Tom Sizemore's acting prospects, of course, were about to take off — but his personal life would also unfortunately start to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tom Sizemore landed his first big movie role

After landing theatre work and small onscreen roles, Tom Sizemore's big break came in the form "Born on the Fourth of July." The Oliver Stone flick is a biographical war drama about Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise), a paralyzed Vietnam War veteran and anti-war activist. Sizemore's portrayal of Vet #1, a fellow Marine who befriends Kovic in the war, proved to be successful. Not only was the award-winning film itself a hit, praised by both critics and the audience, but Stone essentially launched the young actor's career by giving him a shot after acknowledging his talents and abilities.

This recognition naturally led to more opportunities for Sizemore in Hollywood — he went on to star in a number of successful films throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including his casting in another Stone movie, 1994's "Natural Born Killers." "It was my first big lead in a movie," the actor recalled on "Good Day Sacramento" in 2022. "[It was] my first day shooting with Tommy Lee Jones, and Oliver Stone came over to me and he said, 'Before we start to today, I want to let you know that I'm making a table, and I got three good legs and I need another leg ... and you're that leg. You're not going to wobble are you?'"

Heat co-star Robert De Niro staged an intervention for him

As Tom Sizemore's onscreen career began to grow, unfortunately so did his decades-long struggle with addiction to cocaine, heroin, and meth. Things first came to a head in the mid-'90s, when Robert De Niro — Sizemore's co-star in the 1995 crime drama "Heat" — staged an intervention during filming with the younger actor's friends, family, and colleagues.

"I walked in to see my shrink and I walked in and there were all these people there ... and I sit down and Bob came in and goes, 'OK. OK, now we can talk ... Now you listen to me, I'm no psychiatrist ... but you're either going to go to rehab or go to prison,' and in walks a cop," Sizemore recalled to Access Hollywood in 2013 (via The Wrap). "I was trying to make a joke out of it because all these people are there and I'm embarrassed and he went, 'Tom, I'm not playing. They'll put you in jail for a year!'" In Sizemore's "By Some Miracle I Made it Out of There" memoir, he recalled De Niro also telling him (via the NY Daily News), "I love you like a son."

After completing his work on "Heat," Sizemore entered rehab for the first time. He would remain for a number of years, with his career continuing on its successful path. Things were looking up for Tom Sizemore in the late '90s, thanks in part to the help of one Robert De Niro.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tom Sizemore landed the biggest role of his career

Tom Sizemore's career was at its peak when he was cast as Sargent Mike Horvath in the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan." Directed by none other than Steven Spielberg and starring a brilliant cast of Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Ed Burns, Vin Diesel, and more, the film went on to win a multitude of awards, including Oscars for best director and cinematography.

Speaking with the Daily Beast in 2017, Sizemore revealed that Spielberg had him take daily drug tests as part of a deal for his casting. Luckily, the actor stayed sober, and the threat of being recast remained a non-issue. In a 2022 interview with Decider, Sizemore spoke highly of the film's set. "As good as the movie was, the experience was just as good. It was a great experience," he said. "We worked ... I think it was 58 days of principal photography, and we had a boot camp before that and a two-week rehearsal period, so it was five weeks prior to the movie. And we're all together, shooting in Ireland and outside of London. It's Steven Spielberg and Tom [Hanks], who I thought was in his prime peak as an actor and physically as well. It was a terrific experience." 

Sizemore also disclosed that Princess Diana, who was on good terms with both Spielberg and Hanks, even briefly visited the set. However, he noted that the sole negative aspect of the experience was that the film was shot during the same summer of Diana's tragic death in August 1997.

His tumultuous relationship with Heidi Fleiss

By the end of the '90s, and after his divorce from fellow actor Maeve Quinlan, Tom Sizemore began dating the so-called "Hollywood Madame" Heidi Fleiss. She had just completed time in prison for financial crimes, per CNN, and unfortunately, the actor experienced a drug relapse around this time. During an appearance on "Larry King Live" years later, Sizemore would admit, "Well, obviously we were mismatched." He added, "We were both doing dope together. ... I started doing speed with Heidi; we did it together, and it ruined our relationship." By 2002, their roughly two-year romance would be over.

That May, Fleiss accused Sizemore of domestic abuse, testifying that he physically assaulted her on multiple occasions, in addition to harassment over the phone and making threats. "He hit me in the bedroom and dragged me across the room by my hair. He hit me with his hands. I had a black eye," she said of one incident, which occurred after she asked him about reported infidelity (via Entertainment Weekly). While Sizemore denied the claims, he was convicted of seven counts of abuse in 2003, and received a six-month prison sentence.

Sizemore would be accused of domestic abuse again by an unnamed girlfriend in 2016, though he avoided time behind bars by pleading no contest and receiving a sentence of three years' probation, completion of a domestic violence program, and community service. In a 2019 interview with The Eden Magazine, Sizemore's ex-wife didn't name names, but seemingly alluded to experiencing alleged abuse during their short-lived marriage.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Tom Sizemore was accused of groping a young girl on set

Tom Sizemore was accused of touching an 11-year-old girl inappropriately while on the Utah set of "Born Killers" in 2003. However, the allegations were not made public until the 2017 #MeToo movement. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the alleged incident occurred during a photo shoot for movie props, during which Sizemore was tasked with sitting on a couch with the young actor playing his daughter on his lap. After she told her mother what allegedly happened, Sizemore was promptly kicked off set — though he denied the claims. 

An extensive review of the photos ultimately didn't show evidence of what actually transpired, with a production manager recalling, "The girl was so young it was unclear to her and [later] her parents what had actually taken place and if it was intentional or not." Sizemore was eventually invited back for reshoots, and her parents ultimately opted not to press charges. Still, as word of the alleged incident quickly spread, he was promptly ditched by his talent agency and management firm.

In 2020, a judge dismissed the now young woman's civil case against the actor. Sizemore stated (via USA Today), "I hope this highly disturbing matter is finally over for all concerned. ... While I feel nothing but sympathy for my accuser ... I remain dismayed by her allegations." He added, "Beyond the loss of work and the pain and humiliation this has caused me and my family, the thought that an 11-year-old girl would think I violated her ... is what devastates me most."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

He appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew

In 2010, Tom Sizemore added to his multiple rehab stints by joining Season 3 of "Celebrity Rehab." The twist? His infamous ex, Heidi Fleiss, would also feature during that season. But let's back up a bit. Three years earlier, the troubled actor was sentenced to 16 months in prison due to a probation violation stemming from a 2004 drug possession case. However, some disagreed with this decision. Per People, Martin Sheen told the press, "I don't think prison is appropriate for anyone who is in the grip of drug and alcohol abuse." Sizemore remained sober while serving time, but he later told Larry King that a struggle with depression following his release led him to relapse. 

"I could feel people thinking, 'What a shame — look at what Tom Sizemore's done to his life,'" Sizemore later told the Daily Beast, admitting that he'd lost everything he'd worked so hard to achieve. While working with Dr. Drew Pinsky, as well as musician and drug counselor Bob Forrest, on "Celebrity Rehab" and the spin-off "Sober House," Sizemore became sober and looked back on the experience with gratitude. "I was vaguely aware of the fact that I was on TV but it didn't really hit me until 'Sober House.' I was going through terrible withdrawal on 'Celebrity Rehab' and really wasn't conscious of what was going on."

While Sizemore would unfortunately face two DUI and drug possession arrests at the close of that decade, Pinsky reportedly considers Sizemore's sobriety among the series' major success stories.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tom Sizemore published a memoir

Tom Sizemore's 2013 memoir "By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There" is that of a man who's lived several lives. "I can't tell you what I'd give to be the guy you didn't know anything about," he revealed in the book's blurb. "... I've done a lot of things that would make that impossible, and I know that telling you all about them won't help me to become America's favorite son. But it may help you to understand how everything happened the way it did."

In this page turner, Sizemore candidly opened up about his history of excessive drug use, mental health struggles, and domestic violence conviction, and also spilled the tea on several other celebrities, including Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, and even his alleged romance with Elizabeth Hurley. The two reportedly hit it off on the Orlando set of 1992's "Passenger 57," with Sizemore apparently moving into Hurley's hotel room while working on the film, and later to her place in Los Angeles. "That's when I found out that she already had a boyfriend back in England: Hugh Grant," Sizemore claimed (via Digital Spy). "... I just figured he was some out-of-work British actor." 

Sizemore ultimately broke things off, writing of the supposed affair's seemingly inevitable end, "The last time Elizabeth and I saw each other romantically was heartbreaking. I called her up and said: 'I can't do this anymore.'" He also confessed, "It hurts me to say this because she was never really mine, but in many ways Elizabeth was the seminal relationship of my young adulthood."

He's taught affordable acting classes in Los Angeles

Despite his headline-making personal troubles, Tom Sizemore has maintained his rep for being a world-renowned actor with over three decades of experience in the entertainment industry — which certainly makes him a great fit to teach classes to young and aspiring actors. In January 2019, Sizemore tested the waters and asked his Instagram following, "Who would be a student if I started an acting class? Comment below or send me an email." It seems as though he received positive feedback, as his Instagram bio would later read, "I teach actors every Saturday at 1:00 at Harvelles Night Club in Santa Monica." Way to follow through, Tom!

By 2023, this three-hour acting course would offer very limited spots for a more personal feel, meeting weekly for a month, per its listing on Eventbrite. "Perform a scene of your choice (3pg. max) in front of the class. We break down the scene, provide feedback, and help you get the best possible performance. A scene partner can be provided from the class or bring your own," the ad read. The classes seemed relatively affordable, as well: $99 per single class, but $375 for four sessions. 

And honestly, who wouldn't want an acting class taught by a Golden Globe and SAG Award nominee who's worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, and Robert Downey Jr.? As of February 2023, Sizemore was still offering these acting classes, gearing up for another course at the end of that month.

Tom Sizemore was hospitalized following a brain aneurysm

In 2021, Tom Sizemore candidly opened up to Fox News about his well-documented legal woes and harrowing journey toward sobriety. "I've been trying to get sober since 1991," he said, adding, "I had periods, long periods, of sobriety and I would end up relapsing. I still go to meetings and work my steps, but I had reached a place in my life where I knew I had to stop. ... If I wanted to reach a nice and pleasant old age, I had to stop."

While Sizemore seemed to be doing well around this time, the 61-year-old actor was later rushed to the hospital after being found unconscious at his home in Los Angeles during the wee morning hours of February 19, 2023. Sizemore had suffered a brain aneurysm. As explained by Mayo Clinic, this "is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain." While an aneurysm that hasn't burst rarely causes symptoms, those of a burst aneurysm may include a severe headache, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness.

Amid well wishes from fans and celebs like Bret Michaels, spokesperson Charles Lago shared an update on Sizemore's critical condition on February 27. Noting that Sizemore's aneurysm was caused by a stroke and that he'd since been in a coma in the ICU, Lago sadly stated (via Deadline), "Doctors informed his family that there is no further hope and have recommended end of life decision. The family is now deciding end of life matters. ... We are asking for privacy for his family during this difficult time."