Josh Ryan Evans and his character on Passions died on the same day.

Josh Ryan Evans' career was built on his size.

Born in Northern California in 1982, he spent his childhood recovering from one surgery after another to replace a heart valve. The fragile condition of his body was, in part, due to him being born with achondroplasia - a rare form of dwarfism that gave him the appearance and sound of a small child. 

At his tallest, he reached 96.5 centimetres. 

Most of Evans' days were filled with watching TV shows and movies, and playing board games.

"It was all I could do besides read books," he told the LA Times in 2000. "I thought, if it's all pretend, why can't I do that?"

By the age of 12, Evans decided to pursue acting.

Watch Josh Ryan Evans play the Young Grinch in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Post continues after video. 

Video via Universal Pictures.

"I was feeling better. I realised my life was not going to be, per se, normal. I had already spent lots of time in the hospitals," he said.

Evans printed business cards referring to himself as "kid" and handed them out to anyone who might be an actor. 

"My mum is really into musicals, so I would take her to musicals and go backstage and meet the actors," he recalled at the time. Eventually, his persistence paid off.


Six months later, he signed with an agent and landed his first role in a commercial without his parent's knowledge. He was a moonwalking baby in a Dryer's Ice Cream advertisement. 

He then landed the role of child prodigy lawyer Oren Koolie in season one of Ally McBeal.

Calista Flockhart and Josh Ryan Evans in Ally McBeal. Image: Fox.


"It’s so funny, I am a five-year overnight success," he told the LA Times

"Everybody said, 'You hit it so big when you were on Ally McBeal.' I didn’t do anything for a year after [that]."

In 1999, Evans made his film debut alongside Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner in Baby Geniuses he played the babies in the film, despite being 17.

Then he landed the starring role on the NBC soap opera, Passions as Timmy Lenox - a doll brought to life by a witch named Tabitha (played by Juliet Mills). 

"I’m not evil, but some people are freaked out by a living doll," Evans said at the time. 

"I don’t play him as a doll. I play him as a person who can go into doll mode; a being who can turn into what looks like a doll." 

Juliet Mills and Josh Ryan Evans in Passions. Image: NBC.


Evans wasn't supposed to get the coveted position on the TV series - it happened by accident when the show's executive producer, Lisa Hesser, discovered him in the middle of the night.

"We were talking about the character of Timmy and if it was going to be something animated or going to be a person," she said

"I was truly tossing and turning one night, and I flicked on TV and on E! there was a special behind-the-scenes of this movie Josh had done."

The character led him to land the most pivotal role of his career - as the young Grinch in the 2000 film How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey.

Josh Ryan Evans in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Image: Universal Pictures.


The film's director, Ron Howard, hadn't planned on giving the mini-Grinch any lines. But upon meeting Evans, the pair decided to flesh out a more in-depth character. 

"There were really no lines for the character," Howard said.

"We made up lines on the fly, like when he said: ‘The fires of love,’ or ‘What a lovely family heirloom.’ None of those things were in the script."

To become the Grinch, Evans had to sit in makeup for five and a half hours every day. The experience, although exhausting, was one Evans knew he couldn't quit. 

"I have had heart surgery three times, so I know what it was like to have pins and needles stuck in you," he said. 

Evans' mother admitted she was ready to "pull" her son from filming. 

"Then Ron said, ‘Action,’ and he just came to life," she said.

Evans was determined to make it through - and he did. The makeup application process was one challenge - but performing on a level that could match Jim Carrey's performance weighed on him too. 


"If I’d been pulled from the film, I would never have forgiven myself," he said. 

"I came close [to pulling myself]. I had two days left and I knew I had to go back. It was in the morning and, while getting up and putting on my clothes, I did not want to go. 

"The night before I was yelling at my mum every minute she was saying something."

After filming How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Evans went back to his regular role on Passions and grew quite the fan base.

David Hasselhoff, Josh Ryan Evans, Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, 2001. Image: Getty.


He was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2000 for his work and won two Soap Opera Digest Awards.

Evans' role on Passions was coming to what was supposed to be a brief close while he went away for surgery. The show planned to tackle his absence by making his character Timmy die on the show. 

But upon the release of the 2002 episode, Timmy and Evans died unexpectedly on the same day. 

The actor passed away on August 5, 2002, at a San Diego hospital during a medical procedure related to his heart condition. He was just 20 years old.

A tribute Passions episode aired in memoriam of him, which featured the death scene of his character.

At the time of one of Evans' last interviews, the actor was a senior in high school being tutored on the set of Passions. 

He didn't plan on going to college but maybe film school instead. Ron Howard had even offered for him to be an intern for him when he graduated. 

The future, however long away, looked bright. 

"I can’t think too far ahead," Evans said. 

"I am feeling better than I have ever felt. I love being an actor. I love my work. I love the payoff."

Feature Image: Getty/NBC.

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