One of the many good thing about meeting actors at signing conventions is having preconceptions shot to pieces, which either results in elation or bitter disappointment.
When Tom Sizemore was announced for this year’s London Film and Comic Con, it was easy to overlook his body of work for the tabloid-friendly troubles. With a lifetime of shenanigans that make Robert Downey Jr look like Tom Hanks, Sizemore has battled drug addiction and jail time to emerge sober at the age of 49.
So, insteading of witnessing a car crash of a celebrity, I unexpectedly find myself chatting to a polite, thoughtful and utterly charming actor about Robert Pattinson’s artistic soul. It turns out the most potentially troubling guest at the event is the most humble and gracious to the crew and fans, indicating a new leaf may finally have been turned.
Saturday daytime, Sizemore entertains the crowd at Earl’s Court, regaling tales of Hollywood with brutal honesty. The respectful audience concentrate on his film career, and it’s Sizemore himself who brings up the mistakes he had made.
Having worked with Hollywood greats Oliver Stone on Natural Born Killers, Kathryn Bigelow on Point Break and Strange Days, Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan and Michael Bay in Pearl Harbour and Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, the 21st century saw Sizemore convicted of assault and drug possession charges, embark on reality show Shooting Sizemore and a stint on Celebrity Rehab.
Now reflecting on his sobriety and giving his blessings for future projects, Sizemore drops his involvement in The Expendables 2, refusing to say any more (‘Sly will kill me’) but dropping the tidbit that he’ll be playing a villain.
Sizemore is kind enough to grant me a quick interview on his break, which ends up a lengthy discussion on Hollywood’s most exciting leading men before our time is up.
Before then, Sizemore reveals his excitement at heading to Oahu to join the second season of Hawaii Five-0, admitting ‘I’m burnt out in LA.’ He tells me more about his role in the remake of the classic cop show: ‘It’s going to run for the whole season. I’m playing the head of internal affairs. I don’t want to give too much away, but initially you don’t think I’m the best person, but I’m way better than you think I am, and McGarrett [Alex O’Loughlin] and I team up.’ He’s yet to team up with his new cast mates, including Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan and Grace Park, but he knows them all.
Apologetically, he can’t reveal any more about The Expendables 2, compensating for his loose tongue the day before. However, he enthuses about the condition of his friend, Expendables director and star Sylvester Stallone: ‘He looks so good, and he’s great mentally, and he’s really on top of his game.’ Their friendship goes way back: ‘He gave me my second movie. I’d done Born on the 4th July, but I was cast in Lock Up first. That was 1989, and Sylvester has stood by me through thick and thin.’
Sizemore also credits Robert De Niro for his survival during the darker days: ‘He’s my sine qua non. He helped me keep living when things were bad.’ Talking of rays of sunshine, I always want to know if Steven Spielberg really is a saintly figure. Sizemore speaks of Michael Bay’s abrupt methods as a director (‘he’s an asshole, but he’s my asshole’), citing Spielberg as a man who is able to use his personable nature to get things done. Referring to the great director, Sizemore ponders: ‘He’s a man who thinks he can, and genuinely wants to, make the world a better place. It’s a wild thing to want to do, but he wants to make people feel better.’
I wonder who of Hollywood’s new leading men Sizemore finds interesting. ‘Tom Hardy - he’s probably the best young actor right now,’ he states, receiving little protest. ‘I’ve known Tom since Black Hawk Down. If you knew his background… he was so rough round the edges with his accent and everything, but he has an incredible amount of facility with language. He’s a wonderful writer, he’s ambitious in a good way, he’s loyal - he treats the work with great respect - he’s an artist, and I thought he was an artist back then.’
Sizemore’s on a roll, and I’m not about to stop him, merely nodding my head in agreement: ‘He’s good-looking, he has a wonderful build, and even if he doesn’t want to be a huge star, his talent won’t let him be. He’s a kid who could’ve made all the mistakes I made, as we come from similar backgrounds. Unlike myself, he looked around and saw the mistakes people made, and he’s really resolute - ‘I’m not doing that shit’. I’m usually like that, but then I do it sometimes! He has great aesthetic and taste in material.’
He then reveals how close he came to working with the award-winning Hardy’s Bronson director. ‘I know Nicolas [Winding Refn], as I was going to do a movie called Fear X with him, but I dropped out of it, and John Turtorro took over for me as I got Dreamcatcher. I read it [Bronson] and Tom just saw the beauty in it. It’s not an obvious choice.’
Before you think Hardy’s an obvious choice for Sizemore’s favourite young actor, he throws a curve ball. ‘I also think that, believe it or not, Robert Pattinson has got a real artistic soul and is going to get better and better.’ After unanimously enthusing over his sensitive turn in Water for Elephants, Sizemore sensed, ‘he wants to be great, and I think he will be.’
Obviously more comfortable talking about other people than himself, Sizemore finds a few words to say about another star who could go either way. ‘I’m still hoping Colin Farrell lives up to what I thought he was going to be. I thought he was going to be the biggest star since Tom Cruise, when I saw the war movie [Tigerland] and Phone Booth. For whatever reason it hasn’t gelled. His performance in the Malick movie [The New World] is really wonderful, really non-verbal. Malick’s always great, and his last movie was a work of art, but I’m hoping Colin… I think he has all the requisite movie star qualities, the looks, the charisma, the charm - he just needs to get focused.’
I point out that all the actors he admires have one thing in common - brutal, sometimes painful, honesty. ‘Yes, they have a quality that I may have, in that they’re honest in life, and they’re honest in their work. Colin has a flaw like I have… everything came easy to me, and everything came easy to Colin - Colin’s good at everything. He can drink all night and get up. As you get older, I’ve discovered, you can’t do that!’
Funnily enough, with the actors working together once more for Horrible Bosses, Sizemore remarks, ‘Kevin Spacey thinks Colin Farrell is the greatest young actor to come along since James Dean. I think he might be right, if he would just concentrate on doing the work. Fuck the broads, fuck the booze, and fuck all that other stuff. Just do the work. He could be like Newman or Redford and he should be.’
Finally, with hordes of fans now waiting to get his autograph, the actor reflects on his proudest moment. Apart from Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and Heat, Sizemore reflects on TV drama Robbery Homicide Division, which reunited him with Michael Mann: ‘One of the best cop shows ever made.’
Sizemore will be back on the beat in Hawaii Five-0 this year, and look out for official news of his role in The Expendables 2.