Michael Mantenuto, hockey player and star of the Disney film Miracle, has died at the age of 35.
TMZ is reporting that Mantenuto was found dead on Monday after committing suicide. He reportedly shot himself in his car and was found by police in Des Moines, Washington.
Mantenuto played hockey for the University of Maine, but he is best known for playing Jack O’Callahan in the 2004 movie Miracle.
Mantenuto appeared in only two other movies before enlisting in the Army, serving in Special Forces, TMZ reports. His death was announced by his Army unit commander, Colonel Guillaume Beaurpere, according to TMZ.
Born in May 1981 in Holliston, Massachusetts, Michael Mantenuto had an interest both in sports and in acting, and at the University of Maine, he played hockey and studied theater. He was lucky enough to land the role of Jack in Miracle, as the producers were looking for someone who could both act and play hockey.
“Everybody and their brother who played hockey in Boston was trying out for these roles,” Michael Mantenuto told The New York Times. “I saw so many kids I knew.”
Shortly after learning about the Miracle casting call, Mantenuto moved to California to pursue a career in acting, according to The New York Times. Mantenuto always said that his father is the one who instilled in him a love for hockey. His dad was a hockey coach, and Mantenuto would often accompany him to games.
“With this movie, I was able to combine the different parts of my life that were important to me,” Michael Mantenuto told Boston.com in 2004. “To be able to combine the acting, all the expression, the hockey, and be able to segue from one career that I loved so much to another where I wanted my life to go…It was pretty special.”
Jack O’Callahan himself was a fan of Mantenuto’s performance in Miracle, later praising it in an interview with Irish America.
“I think all the actors did great and they were really into it as most had grown up as hockey players and knew our story,” O’Callahan said.