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Mickey Rourke (Actor Spotlight)

Actor Spotlight

Now almost 60 years old Mickey Rourke has spanned the Hollywood landscape, from being a sex symbol to being a the butt end of a joke, but regardless of how you feel I think it is important to view his career as a whole rather than the parts that make up the whole.

The year is 1979 and a 27-year-old Mickey Rourke has just landed his first significant role in Stephen Spielberg’s film 1941 (1979). Rourke, an ex-boxer whom suffered a concussion that basically ended his career decided to take up acting late in the game, that being in his mid-twenties. After his role in 1941 he landed a role as the arsonist in the film Body Heat (1981) with 2 Hollywood heavyweights at the time, William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. Rourke received high acclaim by critics and audiences alike and it seemed his career was about to take off and it did.

Over the next 10 years Rourke starred in 14 films highlighted by Diner, Rumble Fish, The Pope of Greenwich Village, 9 ½ Weeks, and Barfly.

Diner, written and directed by Barry Levinson (The Natural, Rain Man, Young Sherlock Holmes) is a coming of age film starring none other than Kevin Bacon and Steve Guttenberg. Rourke was praised for his role in this now cult classic.

Rumble Fish, based on the S.E. Hinton novel and directed by Francis Ford Coppola was also well received. This film starred Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, and Nicholas Cage but Rourke outshined them all.

The Pope of Greenwich Village bombed at the box office but Rourke still got critical acclaim. He would later say that this film was his favorite film and co-star Daryl Hannah said the same.

In 1986 Rourke became a sex symbol after his work in 9 ½ weeks with co-star Kim Bassinger. At the time this film was risqué to say the least and pushed the limits of what had been seen sexually in film. I remember being 12 at the time and listening to my parents talk about the film in a way I had never heard them talk about a film, taboo like.

After 9 ½ weeks Rourke starred in the film Barfly, recently highlighted by fellow 3guy Adam Griffith in his Hump Day Have Your Say segment. You can check out that post @http://3guys1movie.com/hump-day-have-your-say-out-of-print-films-barfly/

His success seemed to be getting the best of him and he began to succumb to the dark side of Hollywood; drugs, booze, girls, and an arrogance that had many not wanting to work with him. Rourke had a reputation of being an absolute prick and very unpredictable on set and this would soon get the best of him. Feeling lost and misunderstood Rourke decided to halt is acting career and take another shot at boxing, which he failed. His personal life was a mess also and he had some run ins with the law and went through a divorce in 1989. He remarried actress Carrie Otis, who starred in Wild Orchid (1990) with him but that marriage ended in a claim of spousal abuse in 1998 where Rourke was arrested on suspicion of kicking and slapping her.

Rourke went from an A list actor to an afterthought but he would not be held down forever and he began to re-establish himself. During the 90’s Rourke may have made a huge misstep by turning down the role of Butch Coolidge in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, he was Tarantino’s first choice, but even a mistake like that was minimized by his ability to bounce back.

He re-established himself in 2003’s Man on Fire with co-star Denzel Washington but it was not until the blockbuster Sin City in 2005 that Rourke was officially back on the A-List. As he continued to get job offers and began clawing his way back from the depths of utter obscurity there were a few setbacks but most would be erased when he won the Golden Globe in 2008 for his work on The Wrestler (2008).

Mickey Rourke has been busy and continues to be as he works on the sequel to Sin City, Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, which is filming and a film due out this year Java Heat. He also rumored to be starring in films called The Storm and Mobster: A Call for a New Order.

Rourke is the definition of resilience; many would have called it quits long ago and retired in some island community. Maybe he was broke or maybe he loves to act regardless you cannot deny his body of work. I have seen about 80% of his films and never have I said that the problem with that film was Mickey Rourke, he is normally the bright spot and continues to bring his A-game.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mightimo20 March 9, 2013, 9:19 am

    holey crap! i could not even tell that was mickey rourke in those pictures of his younger years! The only movies I’ve seen with Rourke were his most recent ones, def. need to check out some of his early stuff. Awesome spotlight guys!

    • Adam March 9, 2013, 10:17 am

      Hey, thanks for stopping by and checking out our site Mo :-)

  • scottydynamite March 9, 2013, 9:33 am

    If you have yet to see Diner, The Pope of Greewich Village, or 9 1/2 weeks they are certainly must sees.

  • Adam March 9, 2013, 9:45 am

    I watched the Rourke on inside the actors studio the other day. Very forthright about what a self destructive person he was for many years. Nice to see him getting a chance to turn things around. Lots of those inside the actors studio episodes are available on YouTube.

    nice spotlight Scott

    • scottydynamite March 9, 2013, 9:55 am

      This one was for you I hope I did not disappoint, it was very difficult for me to gather all the info and weed out some of his 72 films in his filmography.

  • Griff March 9, 2013, 9:46 am

    The neo-noir Angel Heart has to be one of my favorite Rourke films. He was in his prime and the movie is actually really well done. It’s in my blu ray collection.

    • Adam March 9, 2013, 9:51 am

      Can I borrow that when you come over today? ;-)

    • scottydynamite March 9, 2013, 9:52 am

      Figures one of the many I left out. I also liked that film and think it is underrated.

      • Adam March 9, 2013, 10:15 am

        You can’t list them all Scotty, Lisa Bonet was in that too. I think her naughty performance pissed off Bill Cosby.

        We had the Pope of Greenwich Village on VHS

  • Adam March 9, 2013, 9:47 am

    That Angel Heart film is good too, De Niro stars in that as well.

  • Fogs' Movie Reviews March 9, 2013, 1:54 pm

    Rourke is awesome. I think he made some questionable career choices even prior to becoming a boxer though. Wild Orchid had way too much sex for the public, and between that and 9 1/2 weeks, I think people were leery of casting him due to his rep.

    Then of course, he went off and started fighting, which didnt help.

    It was great we got his trimuphant return though, and I’m always gonna feel like Sean Penn robbed him of his Oscar. :(

    • scottydynamite March 9, 2013, 3:30 pm

      When you look at his body of work it is incredible, I feel bad for these young bucks who know him from Sin City and The Wrestler and have yet to check out Mickey in his prime.

  • Chris March 10, 2013, 8:27 am

    Yeah, let’s not mention his bomb with Megan Fox ‘Passion Play’.
    Great post.

    • scottydynamite March 10, 2013, 8:47 am

      Never seen that one, I take it it was not very good.

  • ckckred March 10, 2013, 8:18 pm

    I like Rourke. He’s a good actor and has starred in some great roles, even though he’s also had some low points in his career.

    • scottydynamite March 11, 2013, 6:08 am

      I agree ckckred, couple of ups and downs. I am looking forward to his work in Sin City 2

  • Mark Walker March 11, 2013, 5:34 am

    Excellent spotlight here. Rourke has always been a favourite of mine. It’s great to have him back. Nice info on his early role in Spielberg’s film. I didn’t know that at all.

    • scottydynamite March 11, 2013, 6:11 am

      There was a lot of info on him I did not know and when I entered into the task of spotlighting him I was overwhelmed with information. There were so many roles it was hard to thin it out. Thanks for commenting.

  • Chip Lary March 11, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Rourke could have had any role he wanted after 9 1/2 Weeks, but like you said he made too many enemies. They kept grudges, too, because he should have won the Oscar for his work on The Wrestler.

    • scottydynamite March 11, 2013, 1:25 pm

      That must have been tough for him, it would have been a storybook ending for his revival.Turning down the role in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction must hurt also.

  • Joe March 12, 2013, 5:34 am

    Love the subject, Scotty. Some great images on the web of Bukowski and Rourke, let’s say, under the influence together. Watched a Bukowski doc. a ways back and apparently ol’ Chuck didn’t care for Mickey’s portrayal of him, criticizing Rourke for being too cocky with the role of Henry Chinaski. I thought Rourke was great as Chinaski which can lead to comparisons with Matt Dylan playing Chinaski in Factotum. I think we’ve had this discussion on 3Guys before.

    • scottydynamite March 12, 2013, 6:24 am

      When reading or involving ourselves in art we percieve characters with our own eyes and no one was going to be able to live up to what Bukowski had in mind. Rourke saw him one way and Bukowski saw him the way he created him, you are going to lose everytime. I thought Rourke did a good job but I did not write the character. I cannot remember Factotum, maybe if I saw it again I would realize that I had seen it.

  • Joe March 12, 2013, 5:38 am

    unfortunatel Bukowski had passed around a year before Dylan portrayed him in Factotum. Wonder what ol’ Buk would have said about Dylan’s portrayal?

  • Joe March 12, 2013, 5:39 am

    I mean Dillon….sorry ’bout that.

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