‘Put a frickin’ bell on him or something,” demanded Mike Meyers/Dr. Evil
of his miniature “cloned” son Mini-Me in the 1999 Austin Powers James Bond
parody The Spy Who Shagged Me.
But when Verne Troyer – the actor who
played Mini-Me in the film franchise – arrives in Israel next week, he’ll likely
have so many people around him that he won’t need any bells to keep from
The pint-sized (2 ft 8 in, 0.81 m) personality is flying in
for a photo shoot on behalf of TNT Kids – the popular clothing line owned by
local fashion giant Honigman – with almost 60 stores around the
“A lot of my fan base is made up of kids, so I thought it would
be cool to come and promote the line. I’ll be wearing some of the clothes, too,
“ said the 42-year-old Troyer Tuesday from his Los Angeles home.
in pop culture celebrities to promote their products isn’t new to TNT. Last
year’s model was Jesus Luz, Madonna’s ex-boyfriend who had accompanied her when
she performed at Hayarkon Park in 2009. But Troyer, who may be small in size due
to cartilage–hair hypoplasia dwarfism, is certainly huge in face recognition.
Besides his highprofile Mini-Me roles, the Michigan native has appeared in
dozens of other films including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
, another Meyers vehicle.
Troyer got his start in films in what
some may see as a rather unorthodox position – a baby stunt double – but which
he realized was an opportunity.
“I was already in my mid-20s and I knew I
wanted to be in the entertainment business, but I didn’t really know how to go
about it,” he said in his high pitched tenor. “But I got lucky and was hired as a
stunt double for a nine-month-old baby on the 1994 John Hughes comedy Baby’s Day
. That led to other stunt jobs and ultimately to his first small acting roles
in Men in Black
in 1997 and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Troyer credited his outgoing personality to his childhood in small
town Michigan where, attending public school as the smallest pupil, he learned
to turn his height disadvantage into an asset.
“Everybody knew everybody
there, so it was fine for me,” he said. “But there were times when I got called
a name or something and had to stick up for myself. Once in grade school, a kid
two years younger than me called me something, and he was like a foot taller
than me, but I jumped up and punched him in the nose. And he never bothered me
Troyer’s self-confidence didn’t prepare him, however, for the
media and public onslaught that greeted him upon the phenomenal success of The
Spy Who Shagged Me
and its 2001 sequel Austin Powers – Goldmember
featured Mini-Me in an even more prominent role.
“I was really taken
aback by all the attention suddenly.
I never thought anything like that
would happen to me, and to this day I kind of forget about it until I go out in
public. But I think it’s great. I enjoy my fans a great deal,” he
The spotlight has caused some glare and tabloid behavior, however,
including a 2004 marriage to a model that was annulled the next day and a 2008
leaked video sex tape with his then live-in girlfriend.
Troyer didn’t try
to keep a lower profile either, taking to the reality show genre as naturally as
serial tabloid celebs Latoya Jackson or Danny Bonaduce. He appeared as a cast
member in MTV’s Surreal Life in 2005, and in 2009 joined Celebrity Big Brother
in England, where he finished in fourth place.
Having developed some
thick skin to protect his underdeveloped frame, Troyer said he didn’t regret his
participation in the reality shows and offered just one piece of advice for
Israel’s Big Brother
cast members. “Be careful! I think it can be a good
experience, but be aware that the producers are going to portray you how they
want you to look,” he said, adding that he would have no problem joining another
show. “I know now what’s expected and what not to do.”
his exhibitionist spirit these days between acting and endorsement offers by
hosting his own YouTube channel, where he regularly posts video clips of himself
going to charity events and doing crazy Hollywood things like riding a motorized
skateboard on a golf course.
And in the back of his mind, like multitudes
of fans, he may be hoping for another Austin Powers movie down the
“My personal opinion is that Mike wants to make another one, but
being such a perfectionist, he wants it to be bigger and better, and that’s a
hard thing to do,” said Troyer.
In the meantime, Troyer is in demand and
looking forward to his first visit to Israel, which he calls “The Holy
“That’s the aspect of Israel I think of first and foremost. I come
from a religious home, and my mom still goes to church every day. Other than
that, I don’t really know what to expect. I’m really looking forward to it,” he
said. Especially taking off that frickin’ bell.