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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

His latest role: Coming clean

January 07, 2007|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

IN this era of celebrity meltdowns, Tom Sizemore could arguably be the poster boy for actors spinning out of control.

The burly character actor, who once worked with such A-list directors as Steven Spielberg on "Saving Private Ryan" and Michael Mann on CBS' 2002-03 cop drama "Robbery Homicide Division," fell into a life of drugs, wild sexcapades and run-ins with the law. He was convicted of beating up Heidi Fleiss, his thengirlfriend and onetime Hollywood madam; he was sentenced to 17 months in jail and four months in a drug treatment facility after repeatedly failing drug tests last year; he was caught using a device called the Whizzinator to fake clean urine samples for his probation officers; he lost his home and wound up living in a garage; and he starred in a celebrity sex tape that was released on the Internet.

Sizemore, 45, is attempting a comeback. He has a BBC miniseries called "Superstorm" airing in March; two indie films are in the can; and this month he heads to New Orleans for another feature film called "Last Lullaby," playing a hit man who falls for his intended victim.

Tonight, VH1 is scheduled to air "Shooting Sizemore," a six-part reality series where cameras trail him and a small entourage as he faces a hard-nosed prosecutor trying to put him away for battery and takes a job in an ultra-low-budget Canadian horror movie. Interspersed in the documentary is black-and-white, grainy, hand-held footage that Sizemore shot as he battled to overcome drugs and bouts of depression.

What prompted you to do this reality series?

Prior to my arrest, I had already filmed about nine months of footage for a documentary [about a year in the life of an actor]. After being arrested, "Robbery Homicide Division" was canceled. I was fired from a couple of movies. It was terrible. What I did, though, is I kept my camera on. I actually bought more cameras.

Did you have any notion your life and career would tumble so dramatically?

Absolutely not. Did I know I would declare bankruptcy, publicly humiliate myself and be excoriated in the press? Of course not. Had I known that, I might have gone home [to Detroit] and worked at General Motors. Actually, I don't know if I would have done that either. I love acting.

What do you hope audiences will glean from this series?

I thought if anything good can come out of this, it can serve as a cautionary tale for young people -- or any people -- who suffer a crisis in their life with narcotics.

What message do you want to convey to others who are abusing drugs?

This is the glass pipe and the rocks of human beings. It's not an idea. It's not a person. It's not a government. It's garbage. And it's destroying everything you are working hard to achieve. And if you think it's cool, a viable choice on how to live your life, you're wrong. I am a living, breathing example of what can happen.

Why do you think viewers will want to follow Tom Sizemore around?

I'm not sure people do. But I think addiction is a disease that is very common in our country and is misunderstood. It impacts a lot of families.

Where do things now stand with you legally?

I just have to stay out of trouble. Since July 5, I've been out of rehab. I was there for 110 days. Before that, I spent about 112 days at [a live-in rehab facility]. I have to adhere to the laws. I'm still on probation. It could be as short as seven to nine months or as long as 14 months.

Have you really kicked your habit?

It's a daily reprieve. I kicked it for today. I've been in and out of AA since 1991. I'm doing what they do, which is one day at a time.

How do you feel?

I feel great. I'm in great shape. I weigh 182 pounds. My body fat is probably down in the low teens. I know I am not going to do drugs today.

If you could say anything to Heidi Fleiss, what would it be?

That's in my past. I'm looking to the future. It's very bright.

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-- Robert Welkos

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