Tom Sizemore: Diamond in the Rough

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Tom Sizemore in Ft. Lauderdale

“We are the sum of what we have been through.” That pretty sums up the acting philosophy of the film star Tom Sizemore, who made an appearance at the Cinema Paradiso in Ft. Lauderdale on May 28.

He has been able to brilliantly portray hard-bitten roles, many of them military, because of what he has been through in life. There were no holds barred in a discussion about his life, which has just been given form in an autobiography that he signed for his fans.

His early life was certainly the key to what came later. “My father was my hero. He was bright, good-looking and 6 foot 3. I idolized him and he turned out to be a cocksucker. He broke my Mother’s heart.”

By his own admission, Tom became a “pot-smoking ne’er-do-well who would beat the shit out of people. I was completely lost.”

The turning point for him came from a book by Jack Kerouac, the American novelist who died of alcohol abuse in 1969. “His book centred me, and led to me on to a book about James Dean.” Tom remembers seeing Dean in the movie Giant, with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson.

“He mesmerized me, and was so much better than Hudson or Taylor. He had the most beautiful face I’d ever seen.” After he watched movies with Montgomery Clift (“director John Huston punished him for being gay”) and Robert DeNiro, Tom started thinking about becoming an actor.

At age 15 he says he was so naïve he thought actors were born in Hollywood, and the only way to join them was to be invited. “I didn’t know you could just move there. Whatever was up there on that giant screen, I wanted to be a part of it.”

He certainly achieved his goal, having appeared in many movies including Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down, for which he studied by attending paratrooper school. “After two days I wanted to leave and just be a sissy actor,” but he persevered and successfully went through the incredibly tough training.

Now free of drugs, Tom looks back on it with regret. “Drugs alienate you from everything you love.”

Tom, who is currently shooting a promo for the new reality series Pawnfellas in Ft. Lauderdale, has Shakespearean aspirations. “I want to do Richard II on Broadway. He spends most of the play in prison, and I really understand that play, having been there myself.”

Photo of Tom Sizemore by Cliff Cunningham, copyright.

Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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