Tom Sizemore found fame as a tough guy, but was plagued by scandals

The troubled action hero: Tom Sizemore boasted of affairs with Liz Hurley and Paris Hilton (which he had to admit was a lie), attacked his wife actress Maeve Quinian and LA madam Heidi Fleiss – as he battled drink and drugs before his death at 61

  • Tom Sizemore died at the age of 61 after suffering a brain aneurysm
  • The action star’s decades-long career was riddled with scandals, as he battled drug addiction, child sex scandals, and had several run-ins with the law

Tom Sizemore’s action-packed characters – that featured in over 100 movies and television shows during his three-decade career – often mimicked the tumultuous, drama-laced life he lived off screen. 

The Private Ryan star’s career was riddled with scandals, as he battled drug addiction, and had several run-ins with the law – while making some of the most iconic movies of the 1990s and 2000s.

Sizemore is best known for his work in films like Black Hawk Down, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers and Heat.

He was set to star in a new indie science fiction film, Impuratus, in which he played a police detective who is forced to believe in the supernatural after witnessing a Civil War veteran’s death bed confession.

However, he suffered an aneurysm following a stroke on February 18 at his Los Angeles home, before his family eventually decided on an end-of-life plan. He died at the age of 61. 

Tom Sizemore has died. He is last pictured here at the Bermuda Island Movie World Premiere at Fine Arts Theatre on January 20, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California

Sizemore is best-known for his role as Sgt. Mike Harvath in Saving Private Ryan

Sizemore was born in Detroit, Michigan, where his mother was a member of the ombudsman staff and his father worked as a lawyer and philosophy professor.

His early roles included appearances in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July in 1989, as well as in Point Break and Natural Born Killers.

But he shot to fame in the 1990s – where he played roles in Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Heat, and True Romance.  

He also starred in the independent drama Love is Like That in 1993 with actress and model Pamela Gidley and had a supporting role in Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp as Bat Masterson in 1994.

Among the tales of his troubled past, Sizemore has been arrested for driving under the influence, domestic violence and possession of a controlled substance.

In 2013, Sizemore released a tell-all book in which he told of his affair with Elizabeth Hurley. He paints the actress, then the girlfriend of Hugh Grant, as a seductress who he fell in love with on the 1992 set of Passenger 57.

He was later married to actress Maeve Quinian from 1996 through 1999. The pair divorced due to his drug problems. But during their relationship in 1997, he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife. 

Tom Sizemore was previously reported as being in a critical condition at a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. The actor has now died

Sizemore was married to actress Maeve Quinian from 1996 through 1999. They are seen here at the 1998 premiere of Saving Private Ryan

Sizemore is set to star in the indie science fiction film Impuratus as a detective who is forced to believe in the supernatural

For his work in Heart and Souls in 1993, Sizemore was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.

From there, he had a succession of well-received supporting roles, including his portrayal of Michael Cherito in the 1995 heist film Heat.

His biggest success was playing Sgt. Mike Harvath in Saving Private Ryan in 1999, the same year he had his first major leading role as Detective Vincent D’Agosta in The Relic.

In the early 2000s, Sizemore appeared in action films like Pearl Harbor, starring Ben Affleck, and Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down.

And in 2006, he starred in The Genius Club – where he played a terrorist who taunts seven geniuses into solving the world’s problems  

Who is Heidi Fleiss? 

Heidi Fleiss is a former notorious Hollywood madame, who was notoriously secretive about her ‘little black book’ of clients, even after she was busted in the 1990s and spent 20 months in federal prison on a tax evasion conviction. 

In the 1990s, Fleiss bragged that she made $1million in her first month as a madam, and never made less than $10,000 a night.

She is known for her luxury escort business that once serviced the likes of actor Charlie Sheen.

Fleiss amassed a ring of 500 women whose escort services were earning her about $300,000 a week. 

She entered the sex work business in 1987 at the age of 22 after her filmmaker boyfriend introduced her to Madam Alex, a ‘procuress to the stars’. 

Now, she makes her living primarily by renovating Airstream travel trailers and selling them on eBay.

Fleiss was arrested in June 1993 and charged with five counts of pandering. Her case went to trial and Sheen testified that he had spent $53,000 a year on her services. 


She was convicted on three counts of pandering and sentenced to three years in prison. Her conviction was overturned in 1996. 

Sizemore was convicted of assaulting actress Heidi Fleiss in 2003, when they were dating

Fleiss is seen with her attorney at her trial in 1993. She served 20 months in prison on a conviction for tax evasion

But in 2005, the same year he became a father to twins, his career came crashing down with the release of Tom Sizemore Sex Scandal, a sex tape of him with multiple women.

In the video, he claimed to have had sex with Paris Hilton – an allegation she has denied. The heiress instead said that it was a plot used by Sizemore to increase sales.  

Two years later, VH1 aired a six-episode series entitled Shooting Sizemore, which chronicled the actor’s struggles to regain his career as he battled with methamphetamines’ and heroin addiction.

The show also followed his efforts to appeal an assault charge for attacking his then-girlfriend Heidi Fleiss.

He had been convicted in 2003 of domestic violence, and was sentenced to seven months in jail and four months in drug treatment for repeatedly failing drug tests while on probation.

Fleiss and Sizemore started dating shortly after she came out of prison, and they were together for three years. 

He was eventually convicted on one count of physically abusing his girlfriend, as well as several charges of harassing her.  

In 2010, Sizemore appeared on the entertainment network again, as a patient in its third season of Celebrity Rehab. In a 2013 interview, he revealed that he started trying to become sober after a stern talking to with Robert De Niro – who personally checked him into rehab. 

And his next scandal came in the form of child sex allegations. In November 2017, it was revealed that he had been kicked off the set of Born Killers in 2003 after he was accused of sexually molesting an 11-year-old on the set.

He denied any wrongdoing and was allowed back on the set after the Salt Lake County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to move forward with the case citing ‘witness and evidence problems.’

By May 2018, the actress — who was then 26 — filed a lawsuit against Sizemore, seeking at least $3million. But on August 27, 2020, a Utah judge dismissed the suit.

The following year, though, Sizemore pleaded no contest to two charges of domestic abuse for assaulting his girlfriend. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation, 30 days of community service and a year long domestic violence program.

And in 2019, he was also arrested for misdemeanor drug possession of ‘various illegal narcotics’ in Burbank, California. 

And again, in 2020, he was arrested for a DUI in Glendale, California. 

Sizemore has also filed for bankruptcy twice over the years, and is now only worth an estimated $500,000.

Still, Sizemore’s career remained steady with two of his films debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008: Red and American Son.

He then saw a career resurgence when he was cast as a series regular in the USA Network show Shooter and later appearing in the revival of Twin Peaks.

More recently, in 2022, Sizemore won an IndiFEST Award and Accolade Competition Award for his supporting role in the Electric Man.

In 2017, Sizemore sat down with in a tell-all interview about the new life he was forging for himself, as he at the time approached four years sober.

Actor Tom Sizemore sits in the courtroom waiting to hear his sentence after a jury found him guilty in August of abusing Heidi Fleiss October 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California

Heidi Fleiss filed 16 misdemeanor counts resulting from incidents of domestic violence over the past year involving former boyfriend Tom Sizemore

In 2010, Sizemore (right) appeared on the entertainment network again, as a patient in its third season of Celebrity Rehab. In a 2013 interview, he revealed that he started trying to become sober after a stern talking to with Robert De Niro (left) – who personally checked him into rehab

The candid and extraordinary interview revealed the shocking depths to which he plunged while consumed by cocaine, heroin and crystal meth. 

He recalled seeing his successful acting career – starring alongside the likes of Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Woody Harrelson and Al Pacino – crumble around him, his bank balance and the trappings of fame vanish overnight, and tells how he hit rock bottom when forced to squat for two years in a building with no electricity or running water, whiling away the days smoking crystal meth.

’My life’s gotten a lot better, it’s been a real chronicle, but I’ve got a long history of substance abuse, I was in a really bad place,’ he explains.

‘And I’m coming up on four years sober, it was really difficult, the first two years were miserable I thought I’d never smile again.

‘But I am smiling again, you’ve got to stick around until you feel better.’

And Sizemore said he knew that if he keeps it together the work would flood in.

‘I’m good at this acting thing,’ he said with a wry smile.

The enigmatic actor said he’s lost ‘nothing off my fast ball’ when it comes to his art.

‘I’m a pitcher, an older pitcher now, and I used to throw 98 mph and I still throw 98 mph when I’m acting.’

But he was also realistic that he needs to stay away from drugs and booze

‘If I can’t stay sober, put me in a field and get rid of me, I’m no good anymore.

‘Drugs are a progressive disease, if I do drugs again I go right back to where I was before, I was ineffectual, I could barely get dressed, I was hopeless.’

Tom Sizemore and Denzel Washington in Devil In A Blue Dress, 1995

The actor (left) in Pearl Harbor, which hit theaters in 2001

Sizemore also played the role of Hugh in Danger Close

Sizemore admitted, however, that moving in showbiz circles does mean he was presented with the temptation of drugs – something he knew will be difficult to avoid.

In 2016, he met with legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards – a name synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll excess.

The pair met at the Sunset Marquis hotel in West Hollywood and Richards was incredulous at his acting friend’s sobriety.

‘He said “Tom, what the f***, you don’t do any drugs at all?”

The actor also rubbished claims that he was left homeless by his addiction, ‘homeless my a**’, he says.

But he described his ‘rock bottom’ where he lived in his car and then a squat for two years.

‘I wasn’t homeless but I had to fast sell my $7million house. This is how f***ed up I was, I could have bought something else, like a condo or something, but I wanted a house again.

‘So I was driving around in my car for a couple of weeks, I mean I was on drugs, I was thinking I’m gonna get the money to buy a $5million home and I’m asking certain people for money. I asked Jack Nicholson: “Can you loan me $10million,” and he said: “In a word, no.”’

Sizemore said he drove up to Sylmar, California, where a friend had a ramshackle guesthouse and he moved in.

‘I was living in a squat, in Sylmar, up in the woods, with no water, no electricity. I’m pretty handy though, so I stole some electricity from the telephone pole, redirected some water. That was not cool.’

That was in 2009 and Sizemore said that spurred him into getting help and he entered a treatment program.

Strange Days, starring Ralph Fiennes and Tom Sizemore

Tom Sizemore acting in Strange Days in 1995

Tom Sizemore in Pearl Harbor, 2001

‘I didn’t get clean,’ he recalls.

What Sizemore learned about himself during his drug years was that he’s a ‘survivor.’

He said that coming from a rough part of Detroit and landing in Beverly Hills surrounded by the trappings of fame, only then to lose it all again, was was difficult to bare.

‘It was pretty quick from coming through adolescence to becoming a big star so I had nothing and then I had everything,’ he says.

‘To have everything, a 24-hour cook, a 24-hour maid, the whole ball of wax. Several million dollars in the bank and job after job after job, then to have it so abruptly stop.’

Sizemore compared his experience to that of close friend Robert Downey Jr.

He recalled visiting Downey in 1999 at California State Prison in Corcoran – otherwise known as the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison or Corcoran II.

‘I remember walking into that prison and thinking, how in the world did the finest actor of my generation end up like this.

‘He’s the most inventive and creative actor I’ve ever met and now this guy is flat broke, hopelessly addicted to heroine and crack and he’s doing two years in California State Prison.

‘And I walk in there and the sobering reality of what had happened to his life and I said to myself, I will never let this happen to me.

‘And then lo and behold in 2005, I’m there too, I had a brief stay at Corcoran.’

Sizemore detailed his hell behind bars and how – targeted because of his Hollywood status – he had 11 fights in his first week in a bid to stay alive.

Fleiss and Sizemore, pictured in 2000 and 2001. Fleiss and Sizemore started dating shortly after she came out of prison, and they were together for three years. He was eventually convicted on one count of physically abusing his girlfriend, as well as several charges of harassing her

‘I grew up in a tough area, I’m not afraid to fight, I don’t wanna fight, but I had to fight,’ he recalls.

‘I didn’t really win any fights but I didn’t back down,

‘It was so scary, I was gonna get hurt.

‘If somebody had killed me he would have gotten some kudos: “I killed Tom Sizemore, that actor,” and he’s like a hero.’

Sizemore says he stayed alive by listening to one of the old timers on his row who told him not to leave his cell. He recalled passing the time by writing film scripts, from memory, down on paper.

‘It kept my mind sharp. My favorite was Hamlet, I’d recite Hamlet in my cell.’

Sizemore said he didn’t start taking drugs seriously until his early 30s – after arriving in Hollywood. As a teenager his mother had always told him to stay away from drugs.

Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore in the film The Relic, 1997

Tom Sizemore and now ex-wife Maeve Quinlan attend the Eyes Wide Shut Westwood Premiere on July 13, 1999

The star recalled the first time he ever took cocaine was at a party at the home of an A-list actor. Cocaine was being passed around the room and he took it because ‘everyone else did.’

‘I walked out on to the balcony and it really felt like Christmas and my birthday and the first time I got a piece of a** all rolled up into one.

Sizemore – who was the eldest of four brothers and a sister and admitted to being a mommy’s boy – told that he would speak to his mom three times a day. 

Sizemore’s drug problem worsened after the film Natural Born Killers. He realized he could still function while filming a big picture and before long he progressed to taking heroin and crystal meth.

Over the years he was in and out of rehab several times and was arrested in 2007 and 2009 for drug-related charges, spending 16 months in total in prison.

The star was even caught attempting to fake a drug urine test using a prosthetic penis known as a Whizzinator.

He chronicled his harrowing drug tales in his memoir By Some Miracle I Made It Out Of There, after getting clean briefly in 2010 on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.

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