Verne Troyer, the actor best known for his roles as Mini-Me in the Austin Powers trilogy and the Gringotts goblin Griphook in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, has passed away at at the age of 49, mere weeks after he was hospitalized in Los Angeles. His death was confirmed by the actor's official Facebook page, which posted the following:
"It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today. Verne was an extremely caring individual. 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 everyday."
Read the full statement in the post below:
Born in Sturgis, Michigan, Troyer got his first big break in the entertainment industry in the early '90s as a stand-in for a 9-month-old baby in the 1994 movie Baby's Day Out. The comedy, about a kidnapped baby who outstmarts a bunch of criminals, co-starred Cynthia Nixon, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Joe Pantoliano.
Given his stature of 2 feet, 8 inches (due to achondroplasia dwarfism), Troyer was often a stuntman, playing small children or animals in projects like Dunston Checks In, Jingle All the Way, and Men in Black. He was skyrocketed into the spotlight with 1999's Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me, as the clone of Dr. Evil (Mike Myers). While he had almost no dialogue, the character became iconic for his squeal of "Eeeee!"
In the third film, Austin Powers in Goldmember, he was parodied by Danny DeVito and becomes a good guy, teaming up with Austin (Myers), Austin's father Nigel (Michael Caine), and Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles) to bring down Evil, his son Scott (Seth Green), and Goldmember (Myers, again).
In addition to the Austin Powers franchise, Troyer was involved with several other genre projects, such as Ron Howard's adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Chris Columbus' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (2002), and Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). When it came to Potter, Troyer was the first actor to portray the goblin known as Griphook, who shows Harry to his Gringotts vault in the first book and helps him break into the bank during the seventh and final book. Troyer played the physical character while Warwick Davis did the voice, similar to how Doug Jones played Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies while David Hyde Pierce later dubbed the voice.
Troyer's final project, currently in post-production, is called Hipsters, Gangsters, Aliens and Geeks and follows a collection of unemployed actors who are drawn into an epic war between clowns and aliens.
Fans and admirers took to Twitter to voice their sadness at the actor's untimely passing:
Troyer is survived by his girlfriend and their son, Tyson.