Remember when Mickey Rourke was going to be the next big thing?
He had nice turns in Body Heat:
Some people swear by The Pope of Greenwich Village (I am not one of them):
But as soon as Rourke became a star, he became less interesting, predictable, a flat-joke, and then he wasn’t a star long, unless you account for his runaway fame in France (and there’s no accounting for that, is there?). He left Hollywood and became a boxer and then returned to the movies, mostly B-level action movies made for DVD.
Now Rourke is back in the mix. The critics liked him in Sin City. And you can just smell an Oscar nomination for him in The Wrestler, his new feature, which looks to be a downbeat, arty riff on Rocky.
Pat Jordan profiles Rourke (His Fists Are Up and His Guard is Down) in today’s New York Times Magazine:
You meet Mickey, you can’t help liking him. He rescues abused dogs! He cries a lot: over his stepfather’s supposed abuse; the loss of his brother to cancer and his dogs to old age; the failure of his marriage to the actress Carré Otis. He admits he destroyed his own career, because, as he puts it: “I was arrogant. . . . I wasn’t smart enough or educated enough” to deal with stardom. He is candid about the people he has crossed paths with: Nicole Kidman is “an ice cube”; Michael Cimino, the director of “Heaven’s Gate,” “is crazy” and “nuts”; and the producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. is “a liar.”
So what if he cries at the same moment in the same story in every interview? So what if his candor sometimes sounds like the bad dialogue from one of his many bad movies (“I have no one to go to to fix the broken pieces in myself”) or that his self-deprecation seems culled from the stock stories of so many fading actors (“I was in 7-Eleven, and this guy says, ‘Didn’t you used to be a movie star?’ ”)? So what if he seems disingenuous, at best, when he says he can’t remember that critics nominated him one of the world’s worst actors in 1991 (“I probably would have voted with them”) or even making a terrible movie that went straight to video, “Exit in Red,” in 1996 — despite the fact that the love interest in that movie was then his wife?
Mickey Rourke is, after all, an actor. The roles he has played and the life he has lived have so blurred one into another in his mind’s eye that even he doesn’t seem to know when he’s acting or when he’s being real. He has spent his entire adult life playing not fictional characters but an idealized delusional fantasy of himself.