Tom Sizemore brought an intense and often dangerous air to his roles—both on-screen and off. Though he had a 30-year career in Hollywood before his passing, scandals plagued him constantly, and fame only heightened the issues he struggled with since his teens. Tom Sizemore’s life was a rollercoaster of affairs, accusations, and addictions.
1. His Parents’ Divorce Traumatized Him
Born to a lawyer father and a mother in public service in Detroit, Michigan, Tom Sizemore spent his first years living the American dream. He was on the honor roll and played quarterback for his high school football team. But his dream soon came crashing down.
His father fell in love with another woman and began an affair that led to an ugly divorce. As the divorce dragged out, Sizemore began the addiction that would dominate the rest of his life.
2. He Was Angry
Known for playing tough guys, Sizemore was just as turbulent and wild when he was being himself. In fact, he thought acting would give him an outlet for his complicated emotions, allowing him to channel that anger into his performances. That passion helped him obtain a master’s in Fine Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia, and transition from off-off-Broadway plays to a small part in 1989’s Born On The Fourth Of July.
His star was rising—but so were his addictions.
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3. He Partied Through The 90s
Sizemore was at the top of his game in the 90s, with roles in movies like Saving Private Ryan, Natural Born Killers, and Heat. But he’d also developed a reputation for being a party boy with a temper. His relationships over the course of his life often brought scandal, but it really started with his marriage to The Bold and Beautiful actress Maeve Quinlan.
To call it a mess would be an understatement.
4. He Got Physical
To have and to hold doesn’t mean you get to put your hands on your spouse whenever and however you want. Shortly after their marriage, Maeve called the authorities to report a physical argument between them. The authorities took Sizemore in for the incident, but Maeve ended up refusing to press charges.
For years she kept quiet, before finally revealing the truth about his behavior in a 2019 interview.
5. He Went To Rehab
Hollywood marriages aren’t exactly known for their longevity, even when the relationship is going well. Sizemore married Quinlan in 1996 but his raging addictions put a stop to their "happily-ever-after". In 1998, Sizemore made his first attempt at getting sober, by attending rehab.
Part of this was an attempt to save his struggling marriage, but he had another actor on his side: fellow tough guy Robert De Niro, who pushed him to let rehab help him.
6. He Was Offered The Role Of A Lifetime
His marriage might have been on the rocks, but Sizemore's acting roles were only getting bigger. After he successfully completed rehab, Tom landed the role of Sgt Mike Horvath in a little film called Saving Private Ryan. Unlike previous roles, this time Sizemore was going to play a good guy; tough but noble, a dedicated career soldier.
But the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, had one important rule that Sizemore had to follow.
7. He Had To Stay Sober
Talented actor or not, it’s a risk to cast a known addict in an important movie—and one that also starred a number of other big names. Spielberg had one instruction for Sizemore: He would have to take tests every single day for as long as principal photography lasted. If he failed even one test—whether it was the first or last day of photography—Spielberg would replace him and his scenes would be reshot.
Against all odds, Sizemore pulled it off. Sadly, it was all downhill from there.
8. He Struggled With Relationships
Despite rehab and fame—or maybe because of it—Tom and Maeve divorced in 1999. Although Sizemore continued working, his sobriety only lasted a few years. In 2001, he met his worst influence yet: Heidi Fleiss, more commonly known as The Hollywood Madam.
He not only fell back into his addictions—and added more—but this time, they got him locked up.
9. He Claimed Blackmail
Sizemore continued to find work in the early 2000s—including another war film, Black Hawk Down—but he’d lost his sobriety. In 2002 authorities took Sizemore in after a woman claiming to be his fiancee accused him of being inappropriately physical towards her. Sizemore's lawyer, however, had a different spin on the story: The woman was attempting to blackmail him into giving her money.
Either way, his career suffered for the accusation.
10. His Show Ended Up Canceled
Hollywood is a land of winks and lies, and nobody really believed it when CBS claimed low ratings were the real reason behind its cancellation of Robbery Homicide Division. Sizemore starred on the show as a veteran detective and it could have been a good influence in his life: a steady job and paycheck. Instead, CBS canceled the show soon after his arrest, leaving him out of work—and continuing to face troubles.
11. He Was Convicted
The rich and famous don’t always get out of going behind bars for breaking the law. In 2003, a court convicted Sizemore of assaulting and harassing Heidi Fleiss during their relationship, and sentenced him to six months in lockup. Fleiss testified during the trial that Sizemore had gotten physical with her and called her more than 70 times to spout foul language at her.
Along with the conviction, Sizemore had to attend rehab and endure probation. Unfortunately, despite claiming the experience chastened him, Tom was unable to keep himself out of trouble.
12. He Consistently Failed Tests
2004 was a hard year for Tom Sizemore. Despite being on probation, he kept failing tests, though on at least one occasion his spokesperson claimed a test was a false positive due to something he was taking legally. That year, Sizemore spent a lot of time in a courtroom, both defending himself and attempting to appeal former convictions. By 2005, he was on such a bad path that even a judge took notice of it.
13. He Needed To Stop
Some judges try their best to help people in their courtrooms, whether that’s a wayward teen who just needs to get back on the right path, or a famous actor falling prey to his demons. In early 2005, a judge in Los Angeles gave Sizemore a stern warning: shape up, or you're headed for an early grave. Despite his probation violations—and even the fact he admitted to indulging in his addictions—the judge allowed him to walk free.
But while he was on thin ice, there was at least one bright spot in Sizemore's life.
14. He Became A Father
Family can be a bright spot of hope in a troubled life. In July 2005, Sizemore became a father to twin boys, Jagger and Jayden, with his ex-girlfriend Janelle McIntire. Unlike a lot of celebrities, Sizemore kept the twins out of the public eye as much as possible, other than a few Hollywood events.
More than that, the twins gave Sizemore something to strive towards, in order to be a role model and provide for his family. It didn’t start out that way, however.
15. He Was Still Ill
You can’t really blame a mother for keeping her kids away from a man with multiple accusations of assault and addiction. Even Sizemore himself stated that becoming a father didn’t change him much—at least in the beginning. As the years passed, he made an effort at thinking of his kids before himself, asking himself if his actions were going to affect his kids.
If nothing else, Sizemore protected their privacy, even though his life continued to spiral.
16. He Had A Reality TV Show
The early 2000s were the heyday of the reality TV show, when a good—or at least controversial—show could make or break a star. The Kardashians turned their reality show into an empire, but Tom Sizemore wasn’t so lucky. His show, Shooting Sizemore, only lasted a single season in 2007.
Touted as an intimate look at Sizemore attempting to put his life together, it only came after some of his most embarrassing lows.
17. He Kept Violating Probation
When you’re taken in by the authorities for using, it’s a no-brainer for the judge to put you on probation and tell you to stop feeding your addictions. But addicts wouldn’t be addicts if they could easily quit. So it wasn’t a surprise when authorities took Sizemore in again later in 2007 for violating his probation.
This time they charged him with multiple felonies but he pleaded not guilty. Despite tearful pleas, however, this time the judge in his case was not so lenient.
18. He Didn’t Escape Punishment
Tom Sizemore avoided true punishment many times, but this time, his luck ran out. The judge sentenced Sizemore to 16 months in lockup, after pushing from DDA Sean Carney, who felt that Tom needed a stricter punishment given his record. Carney claimed Sizemore lied to the court repeatedly, and even used a product called a Whizzinator—a product designed to hold clean urine—to try and pass a urine test.
Sizemore's lawyer, on the other hand, told the court that Tom deserved leniency, and credit for time served for the days he spent in rehab. And she wasn’t the only one who felt the sentence was harsh.
19. He Had Support From Another Actor
Martin Sheen struggled not only with his own demons, but those of his son, Charlie. Though he didn’t address the court, Sheen attended Sizemore's hearing in support. The outcome disappointed him, and he later told reporters that he didn’t think anyone who was struggling with addiction should end up behind bars.
But despite Sheen’s support, and despite credit given for his attempts at rehab, Tom Sizemore headed for prison.
20. He Told Himself He Wouldn’t Let It Happen To Him
One of the most infamous stories of addiction in Hollywood comes from Robert Downey Jr. Like Sizemore, Downey got addicted, ran into trouble, and went to jail—but this was back in 1999. At that time, Sizemore was still riding high on his roles and just a visitor to the lockup, checking in on his friend.
He told himself that he would never let that be him, and yet years later, he ended up in the exact same place—and he wasn’t sure he would make it back out.
21. They Targeted Him
One of the drawbacks of being famous is that everyone knows your face. For Sizemore, that meant other prisoners saw him as a target just for being a famous Hollywood star. In just his first week in lockup, he had to fight for his life 11 times, and while allegedly he gave as good as he got, he remained terrified one of the other prisoners would take him out permanently.
Fortunately, he had another prisoner to turn to.
22. He Listened To The Old-Timer
The best way to survive lockup is to keep your head down, do your time, and get out. Sizemore was smart enough to take the advice of an old-timer on his row, who told him to just stay in his cell. So he did—for seven months. To keep from going completely stir-crazy, he wrote down film scripts from memory and recited Hamlet. But when he was eventually released, he found his troubles had changed his life, and not for the better.
23. He Was Broke
When you’re living on top of the world, you don’t really think about what it costs. At his height, Sizemore had a $7-million home, a personal chef, a daily maid, and more. Then the jobs stopped coming and his addictions swiftly ate the money in his bank account. Pretty soon he had to sell the house, mostly to help pay his court fees.
But instead of downsizing and buying something smaller with his remaining money, he brazenly asked for a loan from another famous actor.
24. He Asked For Money
Some actors show the world their nice-guy personas, or their philanthropy. Jack Nicholson made his mark playing outsiders, weirdos, and, like Sizemore, tough guys. Perhaps that’s why Tom felt comfortable asking him for a loan—to the tune of $10 million. Nicholson, naturally, said no, and who can blame him.
But it left Sizemore living in his car for a few weeks, until he managed to find…well, not a home, but somewhere with a roof, at least.
25. He Had No Water Or Electricity
At least it was shelter. Sizemore had a friend with a guest house in Sylmar, California, but this was no swanky pad for the rich and famous. It was essentially a squat house, with no water and no electricity, an isolated place in the woods. Fortunately Sizemore was handy enough to…borrow...electricity from a nearby pole, and redirect some water to the squat. But for the first time in a while, it forced him to take a good look at himself and his life.
26. They Made Him Feel Good
His addictions may have gotten their start in his teen years, but Sizemore didn’t start to really party until he was a Hollywood actor in his early 30s. That’s when an A-list star—whose name he kept secret—hosted a party that introduced Sizemore to the highs of, well, being high. The lows came later; for the first little while, he simply felt like he’d found the missing ingredient to happiness.
But soon he couldn’t live without the substances—and he knew there would be one person in his life who wouldn’t approve.
27. He Didn’t Want To Disappoint His Mother
For all his flaws, Tom Sizemore loved his mother. Like all good mothers, she warned him of the dangers of addiction, so it’s only natural he felt guilty about his fall from grace. But every time he tried to confess to her, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead he lied—and felt guilty every time, saying it was his biggest regret in life.
To her credit, his mother never had a bad word to say about him, even during his worst years, but Sizemore knew he had to make a change.
28. He Went Back To Reality TV
Professional rehabs and prison time hadn’t done the trick, so Sizemore signed up for season three of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. By then, the world at large knew him more for his troubles than his talent as an actor. But on the show, he truly put effort into getting clean, dropping his tough guy image for emotional and vulnerable introspection.
For the first time, he put the blame on himself instead of everyone else—though he didn’t really remember doing it until later.
29. He Was Detoxing
After so many years of scrambling his brain, we can hardly blame Sizemore for barely remembering much of the season. He was going through withdrawal and that consumed all his thoughts. It wasn’t until the followup, Sober House, that he was aware enough to truly know what he was doing—but one of the benefits of doing it on a reality show is that you have video to watch later. And for Sizemore, watching those videos helped him stay sober.
30. He Grieved His Own Actions
The saddest guy who ever lived: That’s how Sizemore described himself in the videos of private chats with Dr. Drew. Watching them, he needed to grieve his past self all over again, but there was one bright spot. Humans, and especially addicts, tend to forget past trauma; it helps keep us sane. Sizemore kept the videos to watch when he needed a reminder not only of his actions, but to keep him going when he felt like giving up.
He even released a memoir called By Some Miracle I Made It Out Of There, chronicling his Hollywood career and struggles with addiction. But that memoir brought him more scandals.
31. He Starred In An Intimate Video
Not quite the starring role he envisioned as a dreaming teenager, Sizemore once filmed an adult movie with some…adult entertainers. He agreed to its release—as long as he got a cut of the profits. The video also included an interview where Sizemore praised Heidi Fleiss and discussed how depressed his issues had made him.
Not exactly the most titillating thing to view, but he did have one startling revelation to drop on the audience.
32. He Slept With An Heiress
She was just 19. Sizemore claimed that he threw a party for his Hollywood friends, and who should attend but Paris Hilton. When the party was over, Paris stayed for the night and wasn’t shy about asking for exactly what she wanted. According to Sizemore, she definitely knew what she was doing and it was a good time for them both—at least until Paris took off in the morning to head to Sundance. But this was hardly Tom’s first experience with a 19-year-old star.
33. He Lived With A Famous Actress
At least their relationship was slightly more age-appropriate. In 1994, Sizemore starred in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, along with Juliette Lewis. He played a detective; she played one of the killers he was hunting. Apparently their film tension turned into real tension of the romantic kind afterwards, when Sizemore moved into Juliette’s house for four months after filming. But this was no love story for the ages.
34. She Liked The Music
Some people claim to read a certain magazine for the articles and not for the risque pictures that made it famous. Juliette liked to watch adult movies for the music, at least according to Sizemore. But at the time, they were both using heavily and their relationship was fiery, to say the least.
On set, Juliette broke Tom’s nose—and he claimed it was because they were in an argument offscreen. Probably for the best that they broke up after only a few months.
35. He Went Back To Acting
Despite the memoir scandals, things were looking up for Sizemore in the 2010s. Directors took notice of his newfound sobriety and wanted to hire him; in fact, he lined up 30+ projects between 2009 and 2010. Their willingness surprised him, but he was more than happy to get back to work, with a whole new outlook on life.
But that doesn’t mean everyone was ready to forgive and forget, and more trouble was brewing in his future.
36. They Questioned Him
A woman half his age, struggling with her own addictions, goes missing. Naturally, the authorities questioned Sizemore about his relationship with actress Megan Wren, who went missing in 2011. Though some claimed Wren was Sizemore's girlfriend, he denied they were in a relationship, stating they were just friends.
While the detectives said Sizemore wasn’t a suspect, even the implication was troubling.
37. He Wished She Came Forward Sooner
Stories of missing women, especially addicts, often have an unhappy ending, but this one turned out okay. Authorities found Megan Wren alive a couple of months after her parents reported her missing. For Sizemore, the incident was bittersweet. Though he was glad that Megan hadn’t come to harm, he pointed out that she could have come forward sooner and saved him some heartache.
He wanted to put the incident behind him and live his life, and for a few years, he did just that.
38. He Got In Trouble Once Again
Actors usually want to be in the news for their latest projects, not for their latest troubles with the authorities. In summer 2016, officers took Sizemore in for an incident involving his girlfriend at the time, who alleged that he struck her during an argument. Facing a possible three years in lockup for the charges, he took a plea deal, which kept him out of lockup but put him back in anger management programs.
He claimed the accusation was false, but unfortunately for him, it wasn’t even the worst accusation he dealt with that year.
39. He Faced A Serious Accusation
There’s little more disgusting than harming a child—but that’s exactly the accusation leveled against Sizemore in 2017. The incident had allegedly happened back in 2003, on the set of a movie then called Piggy Banks and later renamed Born Killers (but not that other movie Sizemore was part of, Natural Born Killers).
The people in charge sent Sizemore home as soon as the girl’s mother accused him of inappropriate touching, but things could have gone much worse if not for the film’s producer.
40. They Wanted To Hurt Him
News quickly got around to other people on set, and naturally emotions ran high. The crew had no doubt that Sizemore had done exactly what the girl accused him of, given his reputation for being physical already. Fortunately a producer managed to stop them before mob mentality truly took hold and the film’s other producers saw no evidence in the photos taken during the alleged incident.
For his part, Tom denied the accusation vehemently and when the parents didn’t bring charges, the producers allowed him back on the set. The girl at the center of the allegation, however, would come back into his life 15 years later.
41. She Sued Him
Roughly a year after the news first came out about the alleged incident, the girl who had accused Sizemore—now an adult—sued him for $3 million. In her lawsuit, she stated that Sizemore's actions had left her with permanent PTSD and addictions of her own. The actor's response was probably a smart one given the circumstances: no comment.
The case dragged on for two years but was eventually dismissed in 2020. By then, Tom had other problems to worry about.
42. He Relapsed…Again
In 2017, Sizemore had proudly told reporters that he was approaching four years sober and finally taking care of himself; working out, eating well, and even getting a hair transplant. But in early January 2019, officers pulled Sizemore over for driving with expired registration stickers and found narcotics in his vehicle.
He posted bail and a judge told him to stay clean for a full year…so of course he got into trouble again just over a year later.
43. He Drove Under The Influence
Not that driving while high is a good thing under any circumstances, but maybe don’t break traffic laws while you’re doing it. Officers pulled Sizemore over for a traffic violation early one morning in Burbank, California. Upon determining he showed signs of inebriation, they took him in again.
44. He Had An Affair
Sizemore's memoir revealed his most scandalous relationship: In the 90s, he had a three-year affair with actress Elizabeth Hurley—who was dating Hugh Grant at the time. Their relationship started like most Hollywood flings: they met on a movie set in 1992. It wasn’t until later that Sizemore learned about Hugh Grant and even then the relationship continued; Sizemore just made himself scarce when Grant was visiting, no matter how much it hurt.
45. He Never Really Got Over Her
She may have been the big love of his life. Sizemore would get emotional when he had to leave Liz, but as a tough guy, he couldn’t let her see that. But he didn’t date around during the times they were apart, even though he ranted to friends that he should. Eventually they did break up…but then things got really weird.
46. He Claimed She Had An Affair With A US President
Cameras caught Sizemore ranting about Liz Hurley having an affair with Bill Clinton, and that he was the one to introduce them. Even better, he claimed Clinton bragged about being ‘the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America’ and demanded Tom hand over her number. Their affair allegedly lasted for a year, but when the video surfaced, Sizemore was quick to deny it.
At least he had a good excuse: He was too high to know what he was saying.
47. She Was Going To Destroy His Career
Given this was 2014 and Sizemore had already been struggling for years, his career probably wasn’t in that much danger. But before the video became widely available, Sizemore's manager received a phone call from a mysterious woman demanding $20,000 or she would release the ‘fairly damaging’ video.
Thankfully, Sizemore was beyond blackmail at this point. The manager told her to go pound sand and that he would be contacting authorities, and the number was soon disconnected.
48. He Got Clean
Sizemore claimed to be clean multiple times over the years, but he came to the realization in 2021: If he didn't get sober, it would cost him his life. He was candid about how long he’d had addiction issues, and how many times he’d tried to stop, but as he approached his sixth decade, he wanted to stick around for his kids. Sadly, a lifetime of addiction and partying soon took its toll.
49. He Suffered A Brain Aneurysm
One day, Sizemore was active on social media and scheduled to teach an acting class; the next he was on life support in a California hospital. The culprit? A brain aneurysm that put him into a coma. His manager called it a "wait and see situation," but though his family was willing to give him some time to try and pull through, it soon became apparent that they needed to decide on end of life measures.
50. He Passed After A Two-Week Coma
Tom Sizemore passed peacefully on March 3, 2023, with his brother and his sons at his bedside. It was a sad end to a rollercoaster life of addiction, trouble with the law, and incredible acting roles. Though scandals dominated in the news, many people choose to remember Tom Sizemore for his intensity, his vulnerability, and for contributing to some of the best movies of the 90s.