I should admit at the outset that I have not yet seen THE WRESTLER the recent film that has sparked the unlikely revival of the career of Mickey Rourke (including an Oscar nomination)….I hope to see it soon however I don’t need to see it to understand that this is one of those underdog/comeback/second chance stories that people love and that is what is driving this.
That is not to say that Mickey Rourke doesn’t deserve this….There was a period in the mid to the late 1980’s where he was my favorite actor….It seemed he was to be the next Marlon Brando or Robert DeNiro and like them he perched his career between disappearing into a character and creating a recognizable persona that followed from film to film….I think RUMBLEFISH is one of the best films of the 1980’s and one of my true favorites but BARFLY, DINER, and ANGEL HEART (which I saw again recently after many years) are also great films….Quirkier stuff like JOHNNY HANDSOME, THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE, WHITE SANDS, and HOMEBOY (which he also wrote) are also worth checking out.
Sort of like Johnny Depp now, Mickey Rourke seemed to select roles without commercial considerations instead focusing on whether or not they were interesting to him but unlike Depp whose seemingly non-commercial roles hide the usual Hollywood plot structures and endings filled with sentimental goop, Rourke’s choices were extremely eclectic (except for perhaps 9 ½ WEEKS but the less said about that the better).
So what happened?....How did Rourke go from that to straight to video releases or playing the heavy in fifth rate Jean Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone films or really weird stuff like BULLET which has him acting next to Tupac Shakur???!!!!
Well I am not one to repeat Hollywood gossip….Obviously, he has had a lot of plastic surgery so much so his face is only a few notches below Michael Jackson’s in being unrecognizable….It is true that boxing was his first love before acting and his strange return to boxing in the 1990’s was just another example of his increasingly eccentric, erratic behavior during that time.
I am also not one to second guess his role selection especially the fact that he turned down roles in films that went on to be very successful such as RAINMAN and PLATOON while starring in films that weren’t so successful….Personally, I can’t see him in PLATOON and RAINMAN (which is a great movie) would have been very different with him in it….A smart actor knows his limitations and strengths and a great film is often just matching the right actors with the part.
I wish Mickey Rourke well on Oscar night….Life is a strange journey sometimes.