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.