Tom Sizemore discusses life, sobriety, and his new war movie Company of Heroes, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD February 26
After cutting his teeth with smaller roles in movies such as Lock Up and Born on the 4th of July in the late 1980s, Tom Sizemore broke onto the scene in full force in the 1990s with a slew of well-received roles in films such as Passenger 57, Wyatt Earp, Heat, Natural Born Killers, and Saving Private Ryan, to name just a few. He hasn't stopped working ever since with more than 20 films either in the can or in post production waiting for release.
I recently had the honor of speaking with this talented actor about his new film Company of Heroes, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD February 26th. He portrays Dean Ranson in this World War II drama, based on the popular video game of the same name, that mixes history with fiction in unique and wonderful ways. The story takes place during World War II's infamous Battle of the Bulge, following a group of soldiers engaging on a dangerous mission to stop Adolf Hitler from building an atomic weapon.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we spoke about the extreme conditions in Bulgaria, how he surprised himself with being able to pull off the action scenes, working with a diverse cast such as Chad Collins, Vinnie Jones, and Neal McDonough, and even more candid topics such as his sobriety (he has been clean since May 2009). Take a look at what Tom Sizemore had to say in a very memorable interview.
With a project like this, that has historical elements and is based on a video game, did you do any sort of research to take on this character?
Tom Sizemore: I played the game a couple of times. I know a lot about the Battle of the Bulge, and a lot about World War II from Saving Private Ryan. I knew it was going to be a tough shoot in Bulgaria. I knew it's very, very cold there. As for research, I looked at my notes from Saving Private Ryan, how the guys behaved and what not. It was a really great experience. I was with (director) Don Michael Paul, who I've been old friends with. We did Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. I was getting back on my feet, and he was kind enough to give me a shot here.
The cast is really great here, with younger guys like Chad Collins and veterans like Vinnie Jones and Neal McDonough. Were all these guys on board when you joined? Did you have a lot of time to get to know these guys before the shoot?
Tom Sizemore: No, I didn't, but they were such good guys. We became very close. I knew Vinnie, but not well. Chad was really, really shy, but we ended up becoming really good friends and buddies. It was tough, man, the first couple of days. I haven't done anything that physical probably since I ran from the police in 2006 (Laughs). I'm just kidding around. No, it was very tough, but I was very heartened by the fact that I was able to do it. I'm in even better shape now, but it was a really hard movie.
Did they throw you into any kind of boot camp or training or anything?
Tom Sizemore: No, they told us to arrive in fighting shape. I called Don up and I said, 'Don, what does that mean?' He said 'Oh, f&^k off.' (Laughs) When I got there, he said, 'Close. You're close to fighting shape.'
You could have just told him, 'Hey, you didn't tell me. You just told me to f&^k off.'
Tom Sizemore: (Laughs) I should have said that. Don is a great, great, great guy. He loves movies. He's just one of those guys who really works his ass off, and he hasn't gotten his big break as a director yet, but I think he will.
Has Don's storytelling style evolved a lot from those days on Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man?
Tom Sizemore: Oh yeah. He's a much more wise and articulate. He's really good with actors. I'll be honest with you. I was nervous. It was a fairly big movie, and I told Don, 'Look, I haven't done this type of movie in a minute.' He said, 'Hey, look, just do the best you can, and I'll keep an eye on you.' You get really nervous when you care about something, but I surprised myself. I really was surprised at how well I did. I cried a couple of times during it, like, 'I can still do this.' After all those problems, and I'm getting another chance. I'm just really thankful for all the good fortune I've had, and Don couldn't have been a better guy to work for. Bulgaria, on the other hand, is not the greatest country. It's a hard place to be, because it's so cold, and the language barrier is intense. They were such sweet people though. Our crew was great. I might be going back there for The Expendables 3. I'm up for the lead villain. They shot either the first or the second one there, and they're going back there for the third one. I'm up for it, I'm being considered to be in The Expendables 3. How about Sly, coming back like that? Isn't that great? He gave me my first real break in Lock Up. I love the guy. He's never, ever turned his back on me. I don't know if people know that Sylvester Stallone is one of the most decent gentlemen that I've ever met. He's the most consistent friend I've ever had.
Wow. That's great. That's part of the fun of The Expendables franchise for me, just to see who they're going to bring on.
Tom Sizemore: Yeah, it's cool. (Back to the movie) I have to say, Chad Collins is a dark horse. He has a great work ethic. A lot of acting, and I believe this, is either you can do it or you can't. There are different degrees of being able to do it, like Anthony Hopkins. He's just a f&^king natural. He can do anything. Gary Oldman, he can do anything. Chad Collins reminds me of Ben Affleck, just a touch, in this respect. Ben Affleck is a f&^ing wonderful actor, and who knew he was going to be one of our great directors and an auteur. After the first couple of days of shooting that movie, he grew on me in ways I wish Halle Berry would grow on me. I can't say enough about him. We were in a tough terrain, and Vinnie Jones keeps everybody loose. It was a great experience, man. It really was.
You talked about how harsh it was in Bulgaria. Did that help everyone in the cast bond?
Tom Sizemore: Yeah, we were all freezing to death (Laughs). At one point, all of our heaters went out, and it began to thaw a little, and then it got cold again. It was water, then it was freezing. We're in these threadbare uniforms, and all the towels are soaked, and then the heater goes out. We're literally sitting around these lighters. Sam Spruell, being the British one, would say, 'You know what Churchill would say? F*&k it.' (Laughs) 'We're done, f*&k it. We're gonna lose, f*&k it!' Everybody cracked up, and we got to the moment. That's our movie. I'm hoping they're going to do another one. I want to do Company of Heroes 2, if they do it. It depends on how the movie performs, but they hope it will perform well. They have a franchise on their mind, and if it's a franchise, man, I'm going to be a very happy person.
Yeah, because I believe the second video game comes out later this year.
Tom Sizemore: Yeah, that's good news. What's your name again? You're great.
I'm Brian Gallagher from MovieWeb.
Tom Sizemore: You know, I'm going to be four years sober on May 29. May 29, 2009 was the last day I used any mood-altering substances. Things have really turned around in my life, but I missed out on this whole... the Internet was happening, but I wasn't happening (Laughs) during the 2000's very much. There are all these sites about movies and it's really interesting. I'm really into Netflix. It's just fantastic, isn't it? I go on there every day, at least once, and I inherently watch something, for some amount of time. Their documentaries alone, I didn't know they were making all these documentaries. There's a lot of garbage on the Internet too though. Rotten Tomatoes, they want to f*&k everybody up. I don't know why. They've been crucifying me. Can you tell them to stop? But you guys love movies and are very fair. Do you think people will go see this movie? What do you think?
I definitely hope so. You have the built-in fanbase with the video game, and I hope that will drive a lot of people to pick it up.
Tom Sizemore: That's great man. That's terrific. What else do you want to ask me?
Is there anything else that you're working on that you can talk about?
Tom Sizemore: I've got this movie Five Thirteen, it's going to Cannes in competition. It's by a young filmmaker who has won several awards named Kader Ayd. It stars Taryn Manning, Danny Trejo, Steven Bauer, Christian Audigier, from Ed Hardy. There is also Freeman White. It's a great movie, man.
Thank you so much, Tom. It was a real pleasure talking to you.
Tom Sizemore: OK. It was a pleasure.