Alex pays tribute to veteran character actor, Tom Sizemore, who passed away on March 3, 2023, at 61 years old.
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Hey, everyone. Welcome to What are you watching? I'm Alex Withrow, and I'm flying solo today, Saturday morning, March 4th, 2023. And just sitting here having some coffee. And the first thing I see on my phone is that Tom Sizemore has passed away. I did know that Sizemore has suffered a brain aneurysm on February 19th and that he was essentially on life support. But last night his family decided to take him off life support and he passed away. He was 61 years old. Sizemore was born in Detroit, Michigan. You know, he had that thick Michigan accent, get some goddam armor from the beach. I came to being as a film fan in the late eighties, early nineties, and that's when Sizemore He was just one of those guys. He was one of those guys that would show up in a movie you loved in a movie, you knew you were going to rewatch and rewatch it again and again. I'm not saying he was the star or the second lead. I'm saying he could be seventh on the call sheet. And you were still going to rewatch the movie and you were always going to remember him. And that's how it was with me. I just kept going, Who is that guy? Who is that guy? Because he had such a distinct look and distinct way of talking. And it was it was just always a joy to watch him on screen. He was capable of such. Wow. Such rage, such well, he could really get himself worked up, couldn't he? And I guess that is by way of saying that if you are familiar with his work at all, you may be familiar with aspects of his personal life that were very public. And, you know, I'm just here to talk about the work. I'm certainly not saying the guy was Mother Teresa. I don't think anyone would. And, you know, he's just an actor that I've always enjoyed watching and I was very saddened. I am very saddened by this news. And it's a it's a bummer. His troubles or not. You know, it's it's a shame that he's gone. That's all. So I do want to talk about some of his work because I really like I actually thought this could be an actor that we cover on the podcast. I pitched it to Nick before Nick likes him to. It's just I don't even think Nick is up yet. It's early on the East Coast, so it's earlier on the West Coast. And and I really wanted to give my honest opinion on Sizemore and some of his performances here, so I'm going to go through his work in chronological order calling out. I mean, seriously, from when he started until like the early 2000, it was whenever he was in, I saw most all of his stuff just because I was going to see the movie anyway. Some of the stuff he isn't even credited for, and I've always remembered him from it. He has small roles early on in things like Born On the 4th of July, Guilty by Suspicion. Blue Steel. Blue Steel is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and he was in a few of her films early on. And I'm so glad that she took him under her wing early in some of her best movies. Which brings me right to my next performance, a small part as an undercover DEA agent in Point Break. How are those guys robbing Tarzana City National Bank on August 2nd when they were in Fort fucking Lauderdale on August 2nd. Great stuff. Great stuff, nice hair, you know, You know, if Point Break is a movie, you put out as much as I do. Obviously, Sizemore went on to have bigger roles and that's what makes the performance so funny because he shows up very, very briefly and it is very comedic and always enjoyed his moment in that. Next big one was Passenger 57 is Sly Del Vecchio, great character name, but now we really start to cook He's he's that really keyed up FBI agent in true romance he and Crispin are well they're just on one in that movie. A lot of energy I mean Sizemore nails that the rapid pace mixed with the obscure pop culture references mixed with a balance of humor and fury. All of that is often required of a Quentin Tarantino character. And Sizemore is one of those actors who just nailed that cadence. He really got how that dialog should be delivered from the beginning with nothing else to go on. Because because True Romance was very early in Tarantino's career. Obviously, I looked him up on IMDB. There was some interesting trivia. So, you know, take that for what it's worth, IMDB trivia. But apparently Sizemore auditioned six times for the part of Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. I believe that he auditioned for the movie six times. It's kind of hard to believe it was all for Mr. Pink. I mean, I guess I guess he could do that frantic energy. But I you know, I could see him as a convincing Mr. Blond, certainly. So anyway, cool bit of trivia there that also links him to the Tarantino universe. But still, he's in big movies. Wyatt Earp, Striking distance, which was a big movie. Natural Born Killers is back with Oliver Stone. Wow. Detective Jack Skaggs, Neddy Sick, Twisted fuck. I read Sizemore his memoir. And you know, if you want some insight into Sizemore and this performance and a lot of his performances but this one in particular, you can read his book, his memoir, and wow, there's a lot going on with Jack Skegness. I'm not going to I'll repeated here but there was definitely some Sizemore had some chemical help and that's just that's a keyed up movie and a very keyed up performance apparently had his nose broken by Juliette Lewis when they are fighting in the prison there. But that is as far as Tom Sizemore performances go. Natural Born Killers is right up there at the top. You don't really get bored, Tom Sizemore, than that. You worked with Kathryn Bigelow again in strange days in 1995. Also in 95, we have two huge movies, Devil in a Blue Dress. I've talked about this movie before on the podcast. It's a great film. Sizemore is a perfect 1940s Hollywood heavy, total loose cannon, sadistic private investigator DeWitt Albright, P.I. There's a scene where you actually think he's going to take out Denzel Washington's eye with a very large knife. It's so tense and it's early in the movie. So you're like, they're not going to actually take out ten pills. I didn't like. I don't know, maybe they might yet. This is it's so tense. Really, really good movie. Go watch Devil in a Blue Dress Criterion picked it up recently. Oh, I love that movie. Also, 1995, Michael Cerrito Heat. For me, the action is the Juice, maybe the most iconic of all Tom Sizemore line deliveries. I mean, that look, he gives that guy in the diner that head tilt just straight off the prison yard. Oh, God. This is what I mean that Tom Sizemore is. He's always been in my life as a movie fan, and he's always going to be because I'm always going to love Heat. I'm always going to love true romance, Point Break, Devil in a Blue Dress. These are movies I'm going to put on repeatedly, and he gives such memorable performances and them like, what's such a cool aspect about Michael Reno is that he is a sociopath. This is what Michael Mann says. You know, he will pick up your child and run with them and use them as a shield. But he's under outwardly also a great father to his own children. I bet he is. You know, we see him at dinner with his wife and laugh and carrying on such a good movie, such a good performance, great bit of casting. He took two years off. He was he fled a little after heat and got in some some bad shape, took two years off, came back with the relic in 1997. What I like about this performance is that he's playing a good guy. He's a good cop investigating a lizard monster thing in a Chicago museum. I'm a kid of the nineties. I had this movie on a lot. He has good chemistry with Penelope and Miller in the movie. I like that movie. Saving Private Ryan, Sergeant Mike Horvath. We talked about him a lot on the Saving Private Ryan commentary episode. It's just an all time performance from him. You know, Spielberg was nervous about casting him in fear that Sizemore could get himself into some trouble. But you kept on the up and up, and it's a really good, mature performance from him. Again, one that is going to be in the zeitgeist for as long as Saving Private Ryan is, because he is in a lot of that movie and he has a lot of scenes with Tom Hanks, the lead of that movie, and I always liked him in a strong, solid performance from him. Now we go to this uncredited cameo as a sweaty mob boss, an enemy of the state. I love him in this movie. I forgot he was uncredited. You know, until in this tape, the nobody just in back eating that food in that room. Enemy of the state. Great flick. Bringing out the dead. A martin Scorsese movie that Nic likes a lot. This is a weird one that no one talks about. What does no one talk about? Bringing out? The dead didn't do well in theaters. I don't know. It has way more style and, you know, pulse than people give it credit for. Sizemore is, you know, very unhinged as one of Nicolas Cage's EMS partners. Fun performance there early 2000 season things like Get Carter Red Planet, Pearl Harbor. I think his last great performance in a movie and the last great movie he was in was his sort of Robert Duvall Kilgore Apocalypse Now appropriation in Black Hawk Down. I really enjoy his work as Colonel Danny McKnight in Ridley Scott's film Black Hawk Down. Great movie and he's great in it. After that, there are a lot of roles there. There's a lot of straight to video stuff. There's different things going on in his personal life, I'm sure. I actually just watched him in this film, USS Indianapolis Men of Courage from 2016, directed by Mario Van Peebles. I watched it because I was on a Van Peebles kick and I watched New Jack City and then Posse. And then that film. And it's not the best movie. I was I loved it. Sizemore was in it. Nicolas Cage is in there. You know, like Quint's monologue from Jaws about how that ship that delivered one of the bombs, one of the atomic bombs got hit. And then all the guys got, you know, eaten in the eating in the ocean by sharks because they were just left out there. That's what the movie's about. It's it's not it's not the best movie. It's not the best movie. But again, like seeing Sizemore in it. But in 2017, he was in season three of Twin Peaks and he was great. He was so good that I really, really loved him as Tony Sinclair that lost Vegas insurance agent, did some good scenes with Jim Belushi, Robert Kepner, Patrick Fletcher using six episodes and in hindsight, a nice little coda to his career. Tom Sizemore I didn't talk about every performance, every role, but those are ones that I like to use and play it to the bone. God, that's for eight years and play it to the bone Fucking movie. Top five Tom Sizemore Roles. I don't know. I put this together quickly, really quickly. I like all these. I don't know. Maybe it's silly to rank them, but I just put at number five True Romance Detective Cody Nicholson. That chemistry he has with Chris Penn is really something. It makes it immeasurably Rewatchable just like Gary Oldman in that film, Just like Walken, just like Hopper. Oh, what a great movie. Number four, Natural Born Killers. I guess it's got to be Jack's gag Daddy not to be confused with Seymour, Skaggs, Nettie, Mr. Blond's Parole Officer and Reservoir Dogs Number three Devil in a Blue Dress. DeWitt Albright, Go watch this movie if you haven't seen it. If you have seen it, go watch it again or tell someone to watch it. I don't know. Great film. Number two, Michael Cerrito Heat. For all the reasons I mentioned, that he plays a really good sociopath. Very, very well. He's funny in the movies. Also terrifying. Number one, perhaps a sentimental pick, I guess. It's got to be Saving Private Ryan, Sergeant First Class Mike Horvath. Mike, good performance, good movie. They gave him the title line delivery. I like it. I'm going to miss him. Tom Sizemore, what are you watching? I was looking at everything. He was in here and I noticed something pretty quickly that he was never nominated for nor won a major award. However, he did get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a mini-series or TV movie for a film called Witness Protection in 1999. This is a TV movie that is currently on HBO. Max, and I'm going to watch it tonight because I haven't seen it. And it'll be nice to watch this great actor in something I haven't seen. That's it. Rest in peace. Tom Sizemore. Well, did you have quite a run? Thanks everyone for listening and happy watching, but another part of me thinks, what if by some miracle we stay and actually make it out of here? Someday we might look back on this and decide that Saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole God awful, shitty mess. Hey, everyone. Thanks again for listening. You can watch my films and read my movie blog at Alex Withrow dot com Nicholas Dose Tor.com is where you can find all of Nick's film work. Send us mailbag questions at what are you watching podcast at gmail.com or find us on Twitter at WABE BW Underscore podcast. Next time we're going to check in right before the 95th Annual Academy Awards and argue about the most current Oscar narratives. Who's going to win? Who do we want to win? Fun stuff. Stay tuned.