One of the most bizarre — and gruesome — cases of stolen valor came to light this week when an actor who recently appeared on a popular TV show admitted to cutting off his own arm and lying about being a wounded war veteran.
Todd Latourette, who most recently appeared in season 4 of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” told Albuquerque’s KOB 4 that he sawed off and cauterized his own arm 17 years ago out of desperation to earn more acting roles.
“I severed my hand with a Skilsaw,” he said, adding that he had stopped taking medication for bipolar disorder at the time. “The state of my mind was a psychotic episode.”
The actor did wind up landing a number of smaller supporting roles afterward while maintaining a story that he had been wounded in combat overseas.
“The film industry obviously took a different angle," he said. "I was different. And so they liked that.”
But the actor now says he realizes he was only hired because of the ongoing deception, a revelation he said is tough to live with.
“I was dishonorable," he told KOB 4. "I’m killing my career by doing this. If anyone thinks this was for personal edification, that’s not the case. I’m ousting myself from the New Mexico Film Industry. And gladly so, just to say what I’ve said.”
Latourette insisted he doesn’t expect anyone to forgive him, but does hope his experience might be a lesson to someone else struggling with a mental illness.
“The power is in your hands to take your medication in the morning, or at night," he said. "This discourse of my life doesn’t need to necessarily be yours, because it happens quick... it happens quick.”
Latourette’s other on-screen appearances included the George Clooney and Ewan McGregor film, “The Men Who Stare at Goats," and the Netflix show, “Longmire.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.