ladbible logo

To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Extremely tragic story of the actor who played Sloth in The Goonies

Extremely tragic story of the actor who played Sloth in The Goonies

John Matuszak suffered a series of hardships throughout his life before his untimely death at the age of 38.

Despite having one of the scariest faces in film, underneath the layers of prosthetics, the actor who played Sloth in The Goonies was actually a sweetheart.

John Matuszak had to sit in the makeup chair for five hours to turn into the iconic character which hammered home the message home that we should not judge a book by its cover.

The late 38-year-old may be largely remembered for his legendary role in the 1985 movie, but he had his own whirlwind story to tell.

The actor was repeatedly struck by tragedy throughout his short time on this Earth, despite achieving success in both film and football.

So much so, that his former girlfriend dubbed him 'a therapist's dream'.

Matuszak, from Wisconsin, sadly lost his two brothers to cystic fibrosis - with one dying two months after birth and another dying at the age of two - when he was around 12 or 13 years old.

Just like his on-screen character in The Goonies, he was an imposing man who grew to the size of 6ft 8ins and a social outcast.

His height made him a target for bullies throughout his school years - but also gave him the motivation to transform his physique.

Matuszak hit the gym and became a muscular young man, giving him an advantage as a defensive lineman for his high school football team.

John Matuszak was a star in both film and football.
Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

His sporting career later took off, seeing him play for the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins, as well as the Oakland Raiders, with whom he won two Super Bowls during his 1976 to 1982 tenure.

But while football brought him a lot of success on the surface, it also brought him chronic pain, beginning with an injury that he suffered while playing in college.

This initial injury - a shoulder separation - at the University of Missouri was followed by multiple back injuries that eventually led to surgery in the early eighties.

By this point, the footballer was in so much pain that he was put on the reserve list before his ultimate retirement in 1983.

Like a lot of people with chronic pain, Matuszak resorted to self medicating with drugs and prescription medications, which resulted in addictions.

He found fame as an actor largely after his footballing career ended, with most of his film and TV credits taking place after 1982.

Some of his other memorable roles were in North Dallas Forty, Caveman, The Ice Pirates, One Crazy Summer, Ghost Writer and Down the Drain, which was his final performance and posthumously released in 1990.

During an autobiography published in the eighties, Cruisin' With The Tooz, he admitted that he did get clean at one point.

The actor who played Sloth in The Goonies battled through tragedy throughout his short life.
Maximum Film

"I abstain from cocaine, and any other foreign substance, entirely now," he wrote. "I take nothing, not even sleeping pills. I've hit damn near bottom. I don't ever want to go back."

But sadly the actor's sobriety didn't last and he ultimately passed away from an accidental overdose just four years after starring in The Goonies in 1985.

Marv and Audrey Matuszak, the footballer-turned-actor's parents, said they believed his chronic pain was ultimately a major contributing factor in his death.

They said: "We are not unmindful of the problems our son had in his battle against chronic pain and his resulting use of drugs, both prescription and otherwise."

However, his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Cozart said that he was also motivated to take drugs to help him cope with the grief of losing his brothers.

She told the LA Times in 1989: "The man was in a lot of emotional pain. He had a lot of childhood stuff to deal with.

"He had a lot of present-day stuff. He was a therapist's dream."

Featured Image Credit: George Rose/Getty Warner Bros

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity, US News