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Death of Verne Troyer, Mini-Me of 'Austin Powers,' ruled a suicide by alcohol intoxication

Verne Troyer at the Chiller Theatre Expo at the Hilton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany, NJ. Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Rob DiCaterino [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Verne_Troyer_Chiller_Theatre_Expo_2017-10-28.jpg

In April 2017, an unusually serious post appeared on actor Verne Troyer's social media accounts. It stood out in stark contrast to the countless lighthearted, and often hilarious, photos and videos that had dominated his pages.

"I've been hearing from some concerned fans, so I'd like to address a very personal situation," Troyer wrote in the April 6 post. The 2-foot-8-inch Michigan native had amassed a loyal following after skyrocketing to international fame for his starring role in the "Austin Powers" film franchise, playing Mike Myers's tiny clone sidekick, Mini-Me, in 1999 and 2002.

But the post lacked any trace of Troyer's usual breezy cheerfulness.

"As you know, I've battled alcohol addiction in the past and while it's not always been an easy fight, I'm willing to continue my fight day by day," he wrote, adding that he planned to check himself into a treatment center to "get the help that I need."

"I want to thank everyone that's reached out with their messages of support, it truly means the world to me," Troyer wrote, ending his post on a positive note. "With your support, I got this."

Almost exactly a year later, on April 21, Troyer died following reports that he had been hospitalized for alcohol abuse earlier that month. A statement shared by his family made references to the actor's "battles," as well as depression and suicide, but did not indicate a cause of death.

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Troyer's death was declared a suicide by "sequelae of alcohol intoxication," according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office. (Sequelae refers to a condition that is the result of a previous disease or ailment.) Troyer, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism known as cartilage-hair hypoplasia, died of multiple organ failure at age 49.

"Based on the history and circumstances as currently known, the manner of death is suicide," Deputy Medical Examiner Martina Kennedy wrote in the coroner's report.

Troyer was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital April 3 with a blood alcohol content of more than three times the legal limit, according to the report. The actor called 911 himself, repeatedly saying on the call and when he arrived to the emergency room that he wanted to die, the report said.

Although Troyer was best known for his comedic prowess, he had been candid about much darker parts of his life, including his struggles with alcoholism.

"I had a bit of an alcohol problem," he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016.

After his breakout performance in the "Austin Powers" films, Troyer's life took a tumultuous turn. Although he continued to appear in TV shows and movies, including "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2001, he also became associated with a slew of tabloid-worthy incidents involving alcohol.

In 2002, Troyer almost died of alcohol poisoning after going through a breakup, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Three years later, a video of his drunken antics from his time on the VH1 reality series "The Surreal Life" went viral and is now remembered as "one of the best moments in reality TV history." The clip showed a drunk Troyer riding around on his motorized wheelchair naked before urinating in the corner of a room.

"That was a bad period in my life," Troyer told THR. "I've learned from it, and I moved on."

By 2016, Troyer had already made two trips to rehab, and claimed to be "sober," but not in the traditional sense of the word, according to THR.

"I mean, I drink occasionally, but not to the extreme that I did," he said.

The coroner's report noted that Troyer had a "history of alcohol abuse and depression."

Troyer's social media posts during this time, however, painted an entirely different picture of the actor.

He was active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and even ran his own YouTube channel, which boasts more than 825,000 subscribers. On YouTube, fans can watch Troyer drive around in a child-sized toy Tesla car (he got it for Christmas) or follow the actor as he cruises the aisles of a grocery store in his motorized wheelchair gathering ingredients for another episode of "Cooking With Verne."

On all his social media accounts, pictures showed Troyer living his best life. There he was, posing with miniature donkeys, a navy newsboy cap perched on his bald head. In another, he triumphantly lifted a barbell, easily twice his height, over his head alongside the caption "No excuses!" Troyer kissed wolves, played with penguins and got swarmed by dogs as he tried to dole out treats. He also had a particular fondness for taking pictures with people, usually professional athletes, who often were more than three times his size. In almost every post, Troyer is either grinning broadly or has contorted his features to make some silly expression.

"He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh," his family said in an April statement announcing his death.

In an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in May, Myers described Troyer as "a great physical comedian."

"As written, Mini-Me is almost a prop," Myers said, "but he brought it up off the page better than written and we just ended up giving him more and more stuff to do."

The outpouring of tributes that followed Troyer's death heaped similar praise on the actor.

"Verne was an amazing guy, a joyful collaborator, and a true master of comedic acting, a director's dream," Jay Roach, the director for the "Austin Powers" trilogy, said in a statement to THR.

"He elevated the character that Mike Myers and Michael McCullers wrote and helped turn Mini-Me into an unforgettable, iconic character, known and referenced around the world," Roach said in the April statement.

In a final photo shared to Troyer's social media accounts April 21, the actor is once again wearing his trademark smile. Only this time, the caption is somber.

"Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles," the post stated. "Over the years he's struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much."

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This article was written by Allyson Chiu, a reporter for The Washington Post.

 

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