He was an inspiring figure and one who earned a massive fanbase for portraying characters only he could truly capture due to his small stature. Verne Troyer may have not had the easiest life in the world, but he proved to be a capable actor and evolved from an iconic comedic figure into a role model for many to chase dreams and challenge limitations head on. Sadly, he left this world too early on April 21, 2018. In his honor I looked back at his career which involved several memorable roles and made him a runaway favorite in one of the most celebrated comedy trilogies of modern cinema. Time to look back at the life and career of Verne Troyer.
Troyer was born in Sturgis, Michigan to a factory worker and a repair technician with two siblings. His family has Amish heritage and he spent much of his childhood visiting relatives in Centreville, Michigan where he graduated high school. Troyer endured cartilage-hair hypoplasia, a genetic disorder resulting in his dwarfism that made his one of the smallest men on the planet at a full-grown 2 feet 8 inches tall. Troyer didn’t let his dwarfism impact him at a young age noting that he helped with chores and was treated equally among his average-sized siblings.
Troyer began acting in 1994 playing small parts in several big movies usually portraying a small sized character and even serving as a stunt double for infants. His first role was just that in 1994’s “Baby’s Day Out” and he later appeared in family films “Dunston Checks In” and “Jingle All the Way”. He was also credited with appearances in “Volcano”, “Wishmaster”, “Rocketman”, “My Giant” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and played an alien son in 1997’s “Men in Black” (shown above). Many of these roles went unnoticed until Troyer had his breakthrough in the late 90s. Before his most famous role (which I’ll get to in a second) many simply noticed that a little person was featured in films seemingly as a fun gag. Later Troyer’s earlier appearances came to be respected as retroactive cameo roles due to his growing popularity. In 1999 Troyer would take on his most famous part in a legendary comedy series that made him a household name.
The 1999 comedy sequel “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” introduced the world to Verne Troyer as a star, bringing him to the forefront of the production as Mini-Me, a clone of the main villain Dr. Evil who was produced flawed making him a smaller version of the mastermind instead of an exact clone. Mini-Me stole the show becoming one of the series’ most popular characters superseding even Austin Powers himself in the eyes of many fans. Troyer’s career surged in the wake of the sequel’s success making him not only a popular figure among fans, but an in-demand guest performer on the set of many big projects still to come.
The early 2000s kept Troyer in the spotlight through small roles that established him as somewhat of a Easter egg actor hidden within the narratives of numerous movies. He followed up the “Austin Powers” film with an appearance in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in 2000 and later appeared as Griphook in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (seen above) although his vocals were provided by Warwick Davis. In 2002 he returned as Mini-Me in the third “Austin Powers” movie taking on a bigger role as an ally to the titular spy. He went on to appear in six other projects through the 2000s before making his final appearance as the titular antagonist in the 2015 horror film “Gnome Alone” which was his only starring role in his career.
Troyer’s popularity led him to guest star in numerous television programs throughout his career. He appeared as himself in many programs from the early 2000s until 2017. His guest appearances included stints on “WWE Raw”, “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, “Celebrity Wife Swap”, “Celebrity Big Brother”, “Celebrity Juice” and “The Girl Next Door”. He also contributed to the 2016 video game “Let it Die”. Troyer was excellent at managing his popularity and utilized his unique physical appearance and his popularity in the wake of the “Austin Powers” sequel in 1999 to build on his reputation as a fan favorite making him a common sight on television and public programs despite his limited filmography.
Unfortunately, that popularity also made Troyer a target for tabloids and his personal life also had him in the news many times. After marrying model Genevieve Gallen in 2004 Troyer filed for an annulment 24 hours later, but the engagement had become a widely discussed pop culture topic. Troyer at one point accused Gallen of fabricating parts of their breakup story for personal gain. Four years later in 2008 Troyer was the subject of a battle with TMZ as a sex tape emerged of him and Ranae Shrider who reportedly released the video to the public. Troyer sued TMZ for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement as a result. However, these scandals didn’t impact Troyers reputation. Over the years he became an inspirational figure discussing his dwarfism and his struggle openly. He was a noted stunt man and often filled small roles where a mobile person of tiny stature was required to get the shot. This made him an essential member of the Hollywood community and one who made many friends and was loved by pretty much everyone who was able to gain his friendship.
Verne Troyer may not have been the most iconic actor in the world, or even the most iconic little person to hit the big screen. That doesn’t take away from his impact whatsoever. He was a man who knew how to use his popularity well and loved his fans and the job he got to do filling in roles that were literally made for people of his size and limitation. He never let his limited height prevent him from reaching for the stars and without him we may not have had one of the most iconic comedy figures of the 20th and 21st centuries to appreciate. He leaves behind a devoted fanbase and many friends and loved ones who feel blessed to have had him in their lives. To Verne Troyer, the immortal Mini-Me, I say rest in peace and I truly do hope he finds peace wherever he is now.