Verne Troyer — best known for playing Mini-Me in the ‘Austin Powers’ comedies, and for being one of the shortest men in the world — has died. His death was announced on his official Facebook page, in a statement that began, “It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today.
TMZ reported, “he was on some form of life support since being taken to the hospital earlier this month after cops got a report he was drunk and suicidal and was treated for possible alcohol poisoning.”
“Verne was an extremely caring individual,” the statement said. “He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message every day.”
In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Myers said: “Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him. It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”
Troyer was born in Sturgis, Michigan, the son of Susan, a factory worker, and Reuben Troyer, a repair technician. He had two siblings, Davon and Deborah. He stated that his parents “never treated me any different than my other average-sized siblings. I used to have to carry wood, feed the cows and pigs and farm animals”. Troyer was initially raised Amish, but his parents left the faith when he was a child.
During his childhood, Troyer spent much time visiting Amish relatives in Centreville, Michigan. He graduated from Centreville High School in 1987.
Troyer’s film career began when a former president of Little People of America contacted him, looking for someone of a “certain size” to serve as a stunt double for the infant character “Baby Bink” in John Hughes’ film Baby’s Day Out (1994). He gained further work as a stunt double with some minor comedic roles in several films of the 1990s, including Dunston Checks In, Jingle All the Way (both 1996), Men in Black (1997), and My Giant (1998).
Troyer first met with Jay Roach to discuss portraying Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series, directed by Roach and starring co-creator Mike Myers, before filming for the series’ second film began. Myers was impressed with Troyer’s performance, rewriting the script for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) to give Mini-Me more screen time and remove the character’s death. Troyer reprised the role three years later in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), and collaborated again with Myers on The Love Guru (2008).
After reaching a large audience as Mini-Me, Troyer portrayed the goblin Griphook in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and played the role of Percy in Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). He also made several appearances as himself in reality television series, including The Surreal Life (2005), Welcome to Sweden (2007), and the sixth series of the British Celebrity Big Brother (2009).
He reportedly married model Genevieve Gallen on February 22, 2004, but filed for an annulment the next day. Though the couple’s engagement was much reported, Troyer and his attorney denied that the pair ever had any formal wedding plans, saying that Gallen had fabricated the story for her own financial gain.
On June 25, 2008, a private home video leaked of Troyer and his former live-in girlfriend, Ranae Shrider, having sex. The video, filmed in 2008 in Beverly Hills, California, and Shrider’s hometown of Fort Cobb, Oklahoma, was leaked to the public by Shrider and TMZ. Kevin Blatt, the man responsible for brokering the deal for Paris Hilton’s sex tape in 2003, tried to sell the video. Troyer, through his long-time attorney, Ed McPherson, sued TMZ, Blatt, and online rental company SugarDVD, for an invasion of privacy and copyright infringement.
In May 2015, Troyer, his girlfriend Brittney Powell, and her son Tyson appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, where she switched places with Hines Ward’s wife.