Fame was a high price to pay – the man behind Mini Me

PUBLISHED: 16:45 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 22:34 11 October 2018

Verne Troyer. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Verne Troyer. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

An inquest has ruled that Verne Troyer took his own life after a long battle with alcoholism.

Nicola Barrell was really saddened by the news having spent 12 hours in the company of the Austin Powers star in the build up to his appearance on 2009 Celebrity Big Brother.

The US actor, best known for playing Mini-Me in the spy comedy franchise, had openly battled alcoholism and died at the age of 49 in April having spent the last few weeks of his life in a Los Angeles hospital.

Verne who was born with a form of dwarfism that stopped him growing past 2ft 8ins, spent the final three weeks of his life in hospital in Los Angeles for alcohol intoxication.

A larger than life character on screen, it was shocking to discover that he was barely up to my knees – the size of a small toddler - and when I arrived in the Big Brother compound, I had to look twice around the room to work out where he was sat.

Surrounded by a loud, obnoxious entourage, who joked along with Verne before pocketing a cheque to fund a ski trip while Verne was working in Big Brother .

As his chaperone for the next 12 hours I had definitely been mis-sold to him - certainly a long way from his usual type – tall, blonde and buxom.

I could sense his disappointment as he looked me up and down with sniggers from his ‘mates.’

But over the next few hours as we sat and talked and ate together I started to discover a lot more sensitive man underneath the caricature of hypersexual, unintelligent and aggressive bravado.

Walking down the corridor, he had to stop several times and was in a lot of pain ; he was unable to do simple things like turning on a light or opening a door handle. But it wasn’t only the daily battle with his size – he had an internal battle too and seemed very much at odds with his choice of lifestyle.

We watched the film Ryan’s Daughter together critiquing the actors Christopher Jones and Sarah Miles’ and discussed our favourite films. At one point he welled up hinting that he was a cash cow and some of the people who hung around him were not his real friends.

Verne certainly played up to the dwarf stereotype in his films and made himself and the film companies a lot of money – The Spy Who Shagged Me would later go on to gross more than $300 million worldwide and was nominated for and won numerous awards.

But he appeared to me a man desperately looking for answers – and fame sadly didn’t provide them.

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