Revealing Interview with Mickey Rourke for ‘The Wrestler’

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We’ve heard all the buzz on The Wrestler, the Darren Aronofsky feature that is said to revive the career of Mickey Rourke and has since been picked up by Fox Searchlight and is now a contender for Best Picture and Best Actor among other Oscar hardware. I have covered it extensively in “The Contenders” section and now the Los Angeles Times has run a great interview that breaks down the decision by Aronofsky and how he approached Rourke for the job.

“I was very honest with him, like you’d be in a marriage. We looked each other in the eye and I said, ‘This is a purely artistic venture. There’s no money.’ But if he would show up, if he really, really wanted the chance to be a lead in a film again, I wanted to do it with him.”

Those words belong to Aronofsky as he tells the “Times” interviewer, Patrick Goldstein, about how he first approached Rourke with the job, but Rourke has a different version:

“There were no formalities. He said ‘You’ve been difficult.’ I nodded my head. He said, ‘You’ve thrown your career away.’ I nodded my head. Whatever he said, I agreed. He tried to make me feel 2 inches tall. He raised his voice and he pointed his finger at me and said, ‘You can never disrespect me. You can never [mess] around with girls at night. You can’t go to Miami over the holidays because I know you’ll be out partying every night. And by the way, I can’t pay you because we have no money.’ ”

Rourke laughs. “That’s how bad my career had gotten. I had to listen to all that crap and take it. I kept thinking, ‘This guy must really be talented’–I’m leaving out a few choice profanities that Rourke used for emphasis–‘to get away with talking to me that way.’ But it was OK. I like a guy that’s honest from the start. We never had a problem.”

Rourke was a one-time professional boxer known for butting heads with his directors. As to why he got along swimmingly with Aronofsky he says, “That very first day we met, he said, ‘I’ll take you to the show. I’ll get you a nomination for this part.’ And after the first week of work, I believed him. He walked the walk and that got my respect. Darren is like a really demanding football coach, like Vince Lombardi or Tom Landry. He said, ‘Give Rourke the ball’ and I ran with it.”

That is just the meat of the interview and it’s the second part of a two-part interview. The first part can be found right here and the complete second part of the interview can be found here.

The Wrestler doesn’t have a release date yet and centers on Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke), a 1980s-era star pro wrestler who has become a burnt-out shell of his former self. After he has a heart attack during a small-time match, a doctor tells him he could die if he fights again. In an effort to build a new life, Robinson takes a job at a deli, moves in with an aging stripper and tries to build a relationship with her son. But the prospect of a rematch with his old nemesis the Ayatollah proves too tempting to resist, even if it means risking his life.

Get more on the film right here.