After his official comeback as the king of bad boy actors with The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke has gone from obscurity to reborn media star overnight. Between the reconstructive surgery and his pack of Chihuahuas, he’s the most unpredictable guy working in Hollywood today...and that's just the start of it.
Source: FilmMagic Inc/Getty Images
7. Kim Basinger described Mickey as the “human ashtray.”
Source: Peter Krame/Getty Images
No, Ms. Basinger never really bothered to explain to the world what exactly that meant. She said this around the time she and Rourke were working on 9 ½ Weeks, an extremely sexual movie – something Rourke would wind up doing a lot of.
Perhaps Basinger was referring to the fact that Rourke was fond of smoking. Perhaps she meant that Rourke was the recipient of a lot of other people’s crap. Or perhaps she was implying that he allowed himself to consort with the filthier aspects of life. I guess we’ll never know.
I wonder what household object Alec Baldwin would describe Kim Basinger as?
6. Mickey almost played Stuntman Mike in Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof.
Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images
Instead the role wound up going to Kurt Russell after Mickey got in an argument with someone on the production and walked off the set. It’s this kind of hot-headedness that has cost Rourke so much for most of his career. Was Russell pretty awesome in Deathproof? Sure, as awesome as anyone could’ve been in that movie. Would Rourke have cranked it up a few notches had he played Stuntman Mike? Once again, we will probably never know – but I’m betting the answer is yes.
One thing we do know is that it’s not uncommon for Mickey to get in fights with people on and off set. His boxing career in the ‘90s cost him several years' worth of roles, as well as his previously handsome face. Let’s hope he’s gotten all that fighting out of his system. But judging from The Wrestler he’s still got some bite left in him.
5. Mickey was good friends with Tupac Shakur.
Can you imagine the musical brilliance the world might have known had Tupac lived to record an album with Rourke? The possibilities are endless, and pretty much all of them boggle our puny human minds. They both could have rapped. Mickey could have provided some substance to Tupac’s frequently substanceless lyrics. Tupac could have gotten Mickey’s first hip hop album off the ground, and Mickey could have had his career hit the rocks for a whole slew of different reasons.
What’s really weird, though, is when you stop and imagine the two men hanging out. What in hell did they do together? Did they plan how to take retribution against Biggie if it ever came to that? Did Mickey have a hand in B.I.G.’s downfall? Was he the second gunman? Just kidding.
In all likelihood Tupac and Mickey sat around and watched Mickey’s old movies, and Tupac most likely fronted Mickey a lot of weed and booze. Tupac was way ahead of his time to be hanging with Rourke when he was on the outs with Hollywood. The fact that Rourke is even alive to this day has to be at least partially attributed to Tupac. And you know there’s a posse of women out there who got gang-banged by the Tupac-Mickey duo, though it’s unlikely we’ll be reading their memoirs anytime soon.
4. The New York Post’s obituary for writer Charles Bukowski used Mickey’s picture from the movie Barfly.
Source: Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images
Bukowski wrote Barfly and Mickey played Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s fictional alter ego in many of his novels. So when Bukowski finally bit the dust, the New York Post either couldn’t come up with a picture of him or just didn’t know the difference. It says a lot about his acting ability that he was chosen to represent Bukowski over Bukowski himself in the legendary poet/writer’s obituary.
It must have been a little strange for Rourke to have picked up a Post that day and seen his face in the obituaries. That’s an experience very few men have and most of them don’t come away from it with their souls intact. Rourke, on the other hand, went on to have a professional boxing career and a Hollywood revival.
He may have spent fifteen years as a dead man walking, but it’s safe to say the dead man has arisen again, and he’s more alive than ever.
3. Mickey studied at the famous Actor’s Studio.
Source: Lester Cohen/Getty Images
It’s easy to assume that Rourke just slid by on his tough guy charm and good looks and that he never had to actually do anything to acquire his acting ability. In every role he does, his presence onscreen is so effortless, so seamlessly natural. But the man did, in fact, have training – at Lee Strasberg’s legendary Actors Studio, to boot. He even spent time with Christopher Walken, and trailed Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
Rourke studied with Sandra Seacat in at the Actors Studio. The fact that he rose to fame as quickly as he did is due in part to the quality of instruction he received from Seacat. In reference to his early training, Rourke recently told Charlie Rose on his program that he “…worked harder than everybody else.” No doubt: Mickey wasn’t just born into greatness, he fought for it. In the end, it was his training as an actor, rather than his training as a boxer, that would win him the most acclaim.
2. Mickey appeared on the cover of World Boxing magazine in 1994.
Source: Mark Morrison/Getty Images
In June of 1994 Rourke made the cover of “World Boxing” magazine, proving that the man did, in fact, have talent as a boxer, even if it didn’t match his abilities as a thespian. He also sparred with world champion James Toney and Tommy Morrison and went out of his way to visit middleweight champion Carlos Monzon in Argentina while he was in prison for murder. Here’s a guy who knows the meaning of loyalty.
Rourke (his boxing nickname was El Marielito) suffered a lot due to his time spent in the ring. He broke his nose twice and had it operated on five times, he suffered a compressed cheekbone, he also broke his toe and ribs and endured a grisly split tongue. Though he never achieved his goal of fighting for a world title, he did win 12 consecutive first round knockouts as an amateur boxer.
Suffice it to say Rourke doesn’t really half-ass things.
1. Mickey turned down Bruce Willis’s role in Pulp Fiction.
Source: Patrick Hertzog/Getty Images
Butch Coolidge, the boxer who takes a fall, might have been Mickey Rourke instead of Bruce Willis. This will continue to provide movie buffs a lifetime’s worth of “what ifs.” What if he had taken the role? Would his comeback have been in 1994 instead of 2008? Would he have been way better in the role than Willis, especially considering Rourke actually is a boxer? Would he have gotten in a blow-out argument with Tarantino and ruined Pulp Fiction? What if he had made Pulp Fiction even awesomer than it already is? Sadly, we will never, ever know.
What we do know is that Mickey Rourke’s resurrection is that much sweeter because of the time it took to happen. No one – Rourke most of all – is taking this actor’s revival for granted. For all the Pulp Fictions and Deathproofs and Beverly Hills Cops (he almost got the role of Axel Foley, too) he didn’t do, we now have the Iron Man 2s and The Expendables and Sin City 2s to look forward to.
So, was the wait worth it? Hell yes.