In this file photo US actor Verne Troyer arrives for the screening of the movie “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” presented out of competition at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. — AFP photo

Verne Troyer, best known for his role as Mini-Me in the "Austin Powers" movies, died Saturday. He was 49. While no cause of death was given, a statement on the actor's social media accounts said he had gone through a "recent time of adversity" and alluded to suicide and depression as "serious issues." "Over the years he's struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much," it added. "Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it's never too late to reach out to someone for help."

Troyer, who lived in Los Angeles, was taken to hospital early this month for unspecified treatment. The actor spoke about his alcohol addiction during another hospital stay a year ago. One of the world's shortest men at just two feet eight inches (81 centimeters) due to achondroplasia dwarfism, according to reports, Troyer was born in 1969 in Sturgis, Michigan. He first entered show business as a stunt person in "Baby's Day Out" (1994). "In 1993, I was working for Sprint in customer service, and a friend of mine who was the president of LPA-Little People of America-got a phone call from the producers of 'Baby's Day Out,' and they were wondering if there was anyone close to a stand-in size," he recalled in a 2012 interview with Hollywood Chicago. "I guess they searched worldwide and couldn't find anyone. I sent in my picture, and they flew me out to Hollywood to meet with them. Two days later, they offered me the job, and I quit my job at Sprint."

'Extremely caring'

Tributes poured in for the small man with an outsized personality. "Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him," Mike Myers, his "Austin Powers" co-star said in a statement. "It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed." Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin said she was "so sad" over the news of Troyer's death.

"A lovely smile with a caring and big heart, he helped raise money on behalf of @starkeycares for free hearing aids for deaf and hard of hearing people. RIP," added Matlin, who is deaf. Ludacris posted on Instagram a photograph of himself with Troyer strapped to him in a baby carrier, taken from the rapper's "Number One Spot" music video. The pair are wearing the same gray costume. "R.I.P. Verne Troyer aka Mini Me. You made it to that #1 Spot Glad we got to make history," Ludacris wrote.

In addition to his breakout role as the "Mini-Me"-a diminutive, hairless clone of villain Dr Evil-in the first Austin Powers movie "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," Troyer was also known for playing Griphook in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." "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," added the post on Troyer's social media accounts. "He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination and attitude."-AFP