Monday, January 12, 2009

Mickey Rourke, wrestling with his past

Mickey Rourke won the acting Golden Globe on Sunday night for his gut-wrenching turn in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler , and Rourke's got a good shot -- if he doesn't blow it with any more Sean Penn/Milk bad-mouthing -- of repeating his shaky march to the stage when the Oscars roll around in February. It was clear from the reception he received at the Globes' Moet-fueled lovefest in Beverly Hills that his peers still appreciate the guy, and appreciate his story: a self-destructive, drug-ravaged dude making his triumphant career comeback. (Variety reports that Rourke's in line to play the heavy opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2.)

So, here are some pithy ruminations from my Toronto interview with the Rourkester:

About committing to the role of The Wrestler -- like really commiting to it, body and soul:

"I mean, I’d rather go all of the way and fall on my ass than go half way and wish I could have done it better. What’s the point? Life is too short for mediocrity, to play it safe. Hey, we’re only here for a cup of coffee. Why not hang your balls over the fence?"

About asking the Boss to contribute a song for the title track (for which Springsteen won the best song Golden Globe):

"I wrote Bruce Springsteen a letter because of how I felt about him. Bruce was in the middle of a tour, he had lost two members of his band this year. He had a lot on his plate. He went out of his way to write a song called `The Wrestler.' He did it for me as a special favor. It’s a beautiful song. And I’m so proud of it. I love it so much.
"You know, you meet a lot of famous people, talented people, and he’s one of the really, really good souls. Wherever we go, he’s going to go to the best place after this lifetime. And I’ll probably hang out in purgatory for a few centuries. I’ll be in purgatory, Bruce is going to Heaven. And Darren, he’s going to Hell."

About being a former pro boxer. Didn't Rourke have contempt for the fakeness of professional wrestling? Isn't there a general feeling in the boxing community that wrestling blows?

"Yes, yes there is. And I didn’t have any respect for wrestling. Because, man, what we do in boxing, we go in there and really hurt each other. These guys are dancing and everything is choreographed and everything is pre-orchestrated.
"But what I did gain a respect for is it’s like a ballet, it’s choreographed, and yet the sacrifice to their bodies works for the audience, there’s an adrenalyne rush and you really end up getting hurt. In my first two months I had three MRIs... I gained a respect for this as a sport, as entertainment sport. Because you do have to be an athlete... There are some guys, Shawn Michaels, Ray Mysterio, Ricky Steamboat — they're extremely gifted as athletes. I was just ignorant to it, but boy, now I know.
"Man, when a guy who weighs 250 throws you across the ring and you land on your back, your teeth rattle. I got veterbrae damage and neck damage from the boxing, and every vertebrae, every tooth in your mouth, the real ones and the fake ones, they’re all — they all rattle, you know what I mean? All the old broken bones hurt again."


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