American actor Mickey Rourke, best known for his '80s features "Angel Heart" and "9 1/2 Weeks," disappeared from the film world for the entire decade of the 1990s. During that time he turned to his other passion, amateur boxing. But despite all his efforts, he couldn't find glory in any arena. All he got out of it were broken bones and injuries. But in 2009, he rose to the top with "The Wrestler," in which he plays an aging former superstar in the professional wrestling world. While the BAFTAs and Golden Globes anointed him Best Actor, the Oscars opted instead for Sean Penn - meaning old Mickey will have to stage yet another comeback if he is ever to clinch an Academy Award.
"My resurrection has taken 14 years"
His face visibly reconstructed from all his injuries and excesses, Rourke explained to the press on Feb. 19 in Paris how he made his comeback. "My resurrection has taken 14 years. About seven years ago they started to let me work a day here, a day there. It was more about gaining trust with film makers and producers." Always a boxer, he added, "Everyone wants to have the big fight , but you have to do the roadwork and be in shape."
Director Darren Aronofsky told the press about his getting to work with the actor: "It took two years to raise the money for the film because all the financiers in the world didn't believe Mickey Rourke could be sympathetic." He adds: "Between action and cut I've never seen anyone better."
"The Wrestler," where art imitates life
In "The Wrestler," Mickey Rourke embodies a former wrestling star struggling to make a comeback. His personal life and family situation are pitiful, and he lives only for his craft. A heart attack threatens to take wrestling away from him.
The story echoes the actor's real life. And yet he was initially unimpressed upon first hearing of the role. "I think I had a negative opinion based on ignorance. I didn't really have much respect for the sport until the first two months of wrestling practice and I ended up in the hospital. I had three MRIs and I realised these guys really do get hurt," he told the press.