Grinch Actor Who Played Character As A Child Tragically Died At Just 20 Years Old

Josh Ryan Evans, who played the Grinch as a child in the hit movie, tragically died shortly after the film's release. 
Credit: Alamy

The actor who played the Grinch as a child in the hit Jim Carrey movie tragically died shortly after the film’s release. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, inspired by the classic Dr Seuss children’s book, is a popular Christmas comedy starring the Ace Ventura actor which hit cinemas in 2000.

It follows a hostile green creature who lives in a cave and despises the inhabitants of Whoville, who love the festive holiday.

Over the years, the movie has become a Christmas classic and Carrey’s performance has been widely praised.

However, many fans of the movie are unaware of the tragedy that unfolded shortly after the film’s release.

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Josh Ryan Evans was an American actor who played the young Grinch in the holiday classic.

He was born with a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, and was just 3ft and 2in tall.

Achondroplasia is a hereditary disease and it’s the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism, Medline Plus says.

It can result in many health problems, including curvature of the spine, bowed legs and spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal that can compress the upper part of the spinal cord.

Evans worked on several projects in the 90s, including Ally McBeal, 7th Heaven and Poltergeist: The Legacy.

The Grinch
Josh Ryan Evans played the young Grinch in the holiday classic. Credit: Universal Pictures

Discussing his passion for acting, the star once said (via Daily Star): “Watching movies took me away from my own problems and gave me a total escape.

“I knew that if I could do that for just one person – that if I could help one person escape the way the movies helped me – that would be a great way to spend my life.”

But The Grinch was arguably one of the actor’s most gruelling roles, as it involved spending five and a half hours in the makeup chair each day.

According to the movie’s director, Ron Howard, Evan’s role was originally much smaller, but the director changed his mind after meeting the young actor.

Howard recalled: “Evans generated a lot of heart for the story.”

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Evans was also known for playing the living doll Timmy Lenox in the NBC soap opera Passions.

He won two consecutive Soap Opera Digest Awards for the role, the first being ‘Favourite Scene Stealer’ and the other being ‘Outstanding Male Scene Stealer’.

In 2001, the actor was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor.

But the following year, fans were left heartbroken when it was confirmed that Evans had passed away.

According to The Washington Post, the 20-year-old died on August 5, 2002, at a hospital in San Diego.

Evans reportedly died during a medical procedure from complications related to a congenital heart condition.

Josh Ryan Evans in Passions.
Josh Ryan Evans was cast as the living doll Timmy Lenox in the NBC soap opera Passions. Credit: NBC

An eerie coincidence occurred on the day Evans passed away, as per The Sun.

The death scene he had just taped for Passions aired the same day that he died. In the show, the actor’s character died after donating his heart.

The segment was filmed weeks earlier and the episode was later dedicated to the young star.

Later episodes were reportedly recut to remove scenes involving his character.

At the time, the network said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of Josh Ryan Evans.

“He was a truly unique talent with a remarkable spirit. He will be sorely missed by his Passions family and by all of us at NBC.”

When giving his autograph to fans, Evans reportedly always wrote: “Dream big.”

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Written by Aimee Walker

Aimee is a senior content editor at IGV who specialises in finding the best original stories, trending topics and entertainment news. She graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Media and Communications.