By Luis Ferre-Sadurni
Verne J. Troyer, the actor and stunt performer best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movie franchise, died Saturday. He was 49.
His spokesman confirmed his death, the circumstances and location of which were not immediately available.
A statement on Troyer’s Facebook page Saturday said he had gone through a “recent time of adversity” and that “depression and suicide are very serious issues.”
The statement said: “Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles. Over the years he’s struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much.”
Troyer, who was 2 feet 8 inches, was a versatile actor who was widely recognizable from his various roles. He played the goblin Griphook in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and the ice hockey coach Punch Cherkov in “The Love Guru.”
On April 6, 2017, Troyer wrote on Instagram that he had battled alcohol addiction in the past and that he was voluntarily checking himself into a treatment center. “While it’s not always been an easy fight, I’m willing to continue my fight day by day,” he wrote.
He was hospitalized this month after police and emergency medical services responded to a call at his Hollywood home, USA Today reported.
Verne Jay Troyer was born on Jan. 1, 1969, in Sturgis, Mich.
His movie debut came in the 1994 film “Baby’s Day Out.” In a 2012 interview, Troyer said he was working for Sprint in the customer service department in 1993 when a friend of his, the president of Little People of America, told him the movie’s producers were looking for a stunt double for a baby.
“I guess they searched worldwide and couldn’t find anyone,” Troyer told HollywoodChicago.com, an entertainment news website. Troyer, who said he never took formal acting lessons, was offered the job two days later.
Troyer, the son of Amish parents, said he never regarded his size as an impediment. “I never looked at my size as a handicap, I felt like I fit in at school – I was even elected homecoming king,” he said in the interview.
In 2000 he shared an MTV Movie Award for “Best On-Screen Duo” with Mike Myers for his role in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” As Mini-Me, he portrayed the protege of Dr. Evil as played by Myers.
“I had no idea how big it would be,” Troyer said of the first Austin Powers movie in the interview. “When it blew up, it changed my life forever.”
He also appeared in “Men in Black” (1997), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000) and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (2009).
He made headlines in 2008 when he sued celebrity news site TMZ and sought $20 million in damages for a sex tape Troyer said the website stole and posted online. His lawsuit said the tape was for his “own personal, private use.”
Troyer had a YouTube channel with more than half a million subscribers on which he frequently posted comedy skits. In his last video, posted three weeks ago, Troyer was in an armchair and talked about his pet peeves.
“Just because I’m small people think that they can come up to me and tap me on the head,” he said. “I’m not a lap dog.”