American actor Verne Troyer, known for playing Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies and Griphook the goblin in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, died in Los Angeles on Saturday. He was 49.
A statement on the actor’s social media accounts announced his death, but did not mention the cause. “It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today,” the statement read. “Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh.”
The statement also spoke of the actor’s mental health struggles: “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...Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help.”
The actor had spoken publicly about his struggles with alcohol addiction, said The Hollywood Reporter.
Born to Amish parents on January 1, 1969, in Michigan, Troyer had a genetic condition known as achondroplasia, which restricted his height to 2 feet and 8 inches.
He started work in Hollywood as a stunt double for Baby Bink in Baby’s Day Out (1994). The coming years brought him small roles in movies such as Dunston Checks In (1996), Jingle All the Way (1996) and Men in Black (1997). His breakout performance was in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), starring Mike Myers as the titular spy and his nemesis, Dr Evil. Troyer played Mini-Me, Dr Evil’s clone who is one-eighth his size. The performance brought Troyer widespread recognition and his character became a pop culture phenomenon.
Troyer reprised the role in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). Troyer collaborated with Myers again in The Love Guru (2008) and also made several reality television appearances. However, despite his Austin Powers fame, acting roles were hard to come by, Troyer had said. His last film appearance was in a 2015 horror film Gnome Alone.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Myers described Verne as a “consummate professional and a beacon of positivity”. He said, “It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”
James Roach, who directed Verne in the two Austin Powers films, described the actor as “an amazing guy, a joyful collaborator, and a true master of comedic acting, a director’s dream”. He told the publication: “He elevated the character that Mike Meyers and Michael McCullers wrote and helped turn Mini-Me into an unforgettable, iconic character, known and referenced around the world. I feel lucky I got to know him and work with him.”
Celebrities expressed their condolences on Twitter.