16 september, 1952
Philip Andre "Mickey" Rourke, Jr. (born September 16, 1952) is an American actor, screenwriter and retired boxer, who has appeared primarily as a leading man in action, drama, and thriller films.
During the 1980s, Rourke starred in Diner, Rumble Fish, and the erotic drama 9½ Weeks, and received critical praise for his work in Barfly and Angel Heart. In 1991, Rourke, who had trained as a boxer in his early years, left acting and became a professional boxer for a period. He had supporting roles in several later films, including The Rainmaker, Buffalo '66, The Pledge, Get Carter, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Man on Fire.
In 2005, Rourke made his comeback in mainstream Hollywood circles with a lead role in Sin City, for which he won awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Irish Film and Television Awards and the Online Film Critics Society. In the 2008 film The Wrestler, Rourke portrayed a past-his-prime wrestler, and garnered a 2009 Golden Globe award, a BAFTA award, and a nomination for an Academy Award.
In 2010, he appeared in the blockbusters Iron Man 2 and The Expendables.
Rourke was born Philip Andre Rourke, Jr., in Schenectady, New York, to a family of Irish and French descent. He was raised Roman Catholic and still practices his faith. His father, Philip Andre Rourke, Sr., an amateur body builder, left the family when Mickey was six years old. After his parents divorced, his mother, Ann, married Eugene Addis, a Miami Beach police officer with five sons, and moved Rourke, his younger brother, and their sister to southern Florida. There, he graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School in 1971.
During his teenage years, Rourke focused his attention mainly on sports. He took up self-defense training at the Boys Club of Miami. It was there that he learned boxing skills and decided on an amateur career. At age 12, Rourke won his first boxing match as a 118-pound bantamweight (53.5 kg), fighting some of his early matches under the name Andre Rourke. He continued his boxing training at the famed 5th Street Gym, in Miami Beach, Florida, where Muhammad Ali began his career. In 1969, Rourke, then weighing 140 lbs. (63.5 kg), sparred with former World Welterweight Champion Luis Rodríguez. Rodriguez was the number one-rated middleweight boxer in the world and was training for his match with world champion Conor Scullion. Rourke boxed Scullion and claims to have received a concussion in this sparring match.
At the 1971 Florida Golden Gloves, Rourke suffered another concussion in a boxing match. After being told by doctors to take a year off and rest, Rourke temporarily retired from the ring. From 1964 to 1972, he compiled an amateur record of 20 wins (17 by knockout) and 6 defeats, which included wins over Ron Carter, Charles Gathers and Joe Riles.
Early acting roles
In 1971, as a senior at Miami Beach Senior High School, Rourke had a small acting role in the Jay W. Jensen-directed school play, The Serpent. However, Rourke's interests were geared to boxing, and he never appeared in any other school productions. Soon after he temporarily gave up boxing, a friend at the University of Miami told Rourke about a play he was directing, Deathwatch, and how the man playing the role of Green Eyes had quit. Rourke got the part and immediately became enamored with acting. Borrowing 400 dollars from his sister, he went to New York in order to take private lessons with an acting teacher from the Actors Studio, Sandra Seacat.
Rourke's film debut was a small role in Steven Spielberg's film 1941. However, it was his portrayal of an arson in Body Heat that garnered significant attention, despite his modest time onscreen. He mostly appeared in television films in his early career. During the early 1980s, Rourke starred in Diner, alongside Paul Reiser, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly and Kevin Bacon, and yet again drew further critical notices for his portrayal as the suave compulsive gambler "Boogie" Sheftell; The National Society of Film Critics named him "Best Supporting Actor" that year. Soon thereafter, Rourke starred in Rumble Fish, Francis Ford Coppola's follow-up to The Outsiders.
Rourke's performance in the film The Pope of Greenwich Village alongside Daryl Hannah and Eric Roberts also caught the attention of critics, although the film was not financially successful. In the mid-1980s, Rourke earned himself additional leading roles. His role alongside Kim Basinger in the erotic drama 9½ Weeks helped him gain "sex symbol" status. He received critical praise for his work in Barfly as the alcoholic writer Henry Chinaski (the literary alter ego of Charles Bukowski) and in Year of the Dragon. In 1987, Rourke appeared in Angel Heart. The film was nominated for several awards. It was seen as controversial by some owing to a sex scene involving Cosby Show cast member Lisa Bonet, who won an award for her part in the film. Although some of Rourke's work was viewed as controversial in the U.S., he was well-received by Europe, and especially French, audiences, who loved the "rumpled, slightly dirty, sordid ... rebel persona" that he projected in Year of the Dragon, 9½ Weeks, Angel Heart, and Desperate Hours.
In the late 1980s, Rourke performed with David Bowie on the Never Let Me Down album. Around the same time he also wrote his first screenplay, Homeboy, a boxing tale in which he starred. In 1989, Rourke starred in the docu-drama Francesco, portraying St. Francis of Assisi. This was followed by Wild Orchid, another critically panned film, which gained him a nomination for a Razzie award (also for Desperate Hours). In 1991, he starred in the box office bomb Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man as Harley Davidson, a biker whose best friend, Marlboro, was played by Don Johnson. In his last role before departing for the boxing ring, Rourke played an arms dealer chased by Willem Dafoe and Samuel Jackson in White Sands, a film noir which reviewers found to be stylish but incoherent.
Rourke's acting career eventually became overshadowed by his personal life and career decisions. Directors such as Alan Parker found it difficult to work with him. Parker stated that "working with Mickey is a nightmare. He is very dangerous on the set because you never know what he is going to do." In a documentary on the special edition DVD of Tombstone, actor Michael Biehn, who plays the part of Johnny Ringo, mentions that his role was first offered to Rourke.
In 1991, Rourke decided that he "had to go back to boxing" because he felt that he "was self-destructing … (and) had no respect for (himself as) an actor." Rourke was undefeated in eight fights, with six wins (four by knockout) and two draws. He fought internationally in countries including Spain, Japan and Germany.
During his boxing career, Rourke suffered a number of injuries, including a broken nose, toe, ribs, a split tongue, and a compressed cheekbone. He also suffered from short term memory loss.
His trainer during most of his boxing career was Hells Angels member, actor and celebrity bodyguard Chuck Zito. Freddie Roach also trained Rourke for seven fights. Rourke's entrance song into the ring was often Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine."
Boxing promoters said that Rourke was too old to succeed against top-level fighters. Indeed, Rourke himself admits that entering the ring was a sort of personal test: "[I] just wanted to give it a shot, test myself that way physically, while I still had time." In 1995, Rourke retired from boxing and returned to acting.
Rourke's boxing career resulted in a notable physical change in the 1990s, as his face needed reconstructive surgery in order to mend his injuries. His face was later called "appallingly disfigured." In 2009, the actor told The Daily Mail that he had gone to "the wrong guy" for his surgery, and that his plastic surgeon had left his features "a mess."
1990s: return to acting
In the early 1990s, Rourke was offered and declined the role of Butch Coolidge, which later became Bruce Willis' role in Pulp Fiction. After his retirement from boxing, Rourke did accept supporting roles in several 1990s films, including Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of John Grisham's The Rainmaker, Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66, Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory, Sean Penn's The Pledge and Sylvester Stallone's remake of Get Carter. Rourke also has written several films under the name "Sir Eddie Cook", including Bullet, in which he co-starred with close friend Tupac Shakur.
While Rourke was also selected for a significant role in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line; his part ended up on the editing room floor. Rourke also played a small part in the film Thursday, in which he plays a crooked cop. He also had a lead role in 1997's Double Team, which co-starred martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was Rourke's first over-the-top action film role, in which he played the lead villain. During that same year, he filmed Another 9½ Weeks, a sequel to 9½ Weeks, which only received limited distribution. He ended the 1990s with the direct-to-video films Out in Fifty, Shades and television film Shergar, about the kidnapping of Epsom Derby-winning thoroughbred racehorse Shergar. Rourke has expressed his bitterness over that period of his career, stating that he came to consider himself a "has-been" and lived for a time in "a state of shame."
In 2001, he appeared as the villain in Enrique Iglesias's music video for "Hero," which also featured Jennifer Love Hewitt. In 2002, Rourke took the role of The Cook in Jonas Åkerlund's Spun, teaming up once again with Eric Roberts. His first collaborations with directors Robert Rodriguez and Tony Scott in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Man on Fire, were for smaller roles. Nonetheless, these directors subsequently decided to cast Rourke in lead roles in their next films.
In 2005, Rourke made his comeback in mainstream Hollywood circles with a lead role (Marv) in Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City. Rourke received awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the IFTA and the Online Film Critics Society, as well as "Man of the Year" from Total Film magazine that year. Rourke followed Sin City with a supporting role in Tony Scott's Domino alongside Keira Knightley, in which he played a bounty hunter.
Rourke played the role of "The Blackbird" in an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Killshot, and appeared as Darrius Sayle in the adaptation of the Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker.
In addition, in 2004, Rourke provided the voice for "Jericho" in the third installment of the Driver video game series. Rourke also recently appeared in a 40-page story by photographer Bryan Adams for Berlin's Zoo Magazine. In an article about Rourke's return to steady acting roles, entitled "Mickey Rourke Rising", Christopher Heard stated that actors/musicians Tupac Shakur, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt have "…animated praise for Rourke and his work." During a roundtable session of Oscar nominated actors held by Newsweek, Brad Pitt cited Rourke as one of his early acting heroes along with Sean Penn and Gary Oldman.
Despite having withdrawn from acting at various points, and having made films that he now sees as a creative "sell-out" (the action film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man), Rourke has stated that "…all that I have been through…[has] made me a better, more interesting actor." Rourke's renewed interest in pursuing acting can be seen in his statement that "… my best work is still ahead of me."
Rourke had a role in the film version of The Informers, playing Peter, an amoral former studio security guard who plots to kidnap a small child.
In 2008, Rourke played the lead in The Wrestler, winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, about washed-up professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson. In regards to first reading the screenplay, he stated that he originally "didn't care for it."
He also spoke on personal concern and hesitance of being in a film about wrestling, for he perceived it as being "prearranged and prechoreographed." However, as he trained for the film, he developed an appreciation and respect for what real-life pro wrestlers do to prepare for the ring:
He trained under former WWE wrestler Afa the Wild Samoan for the part, and has received a British Academy (BAFTA) award, a Golden Globe award, an Independent Spirit Award, and an Oscar nomination as Best Actor. Rourke was pessimistic about his chances to win the Oscar as he had been, in the past, very vocal against Hollywood's establishment. Rourke lost the Oscar to Sean Penn, while Penn did acknowledge Rourke in his acceptance speech.
Rourke has written or co-written six scripts: Homeboy, The Last Ride, Bullet, Killer Moon, Penance and the latest, Pain. Of these, the first three were produced as films between 1988 and 1996.
In early 2009, Rourke developed a small feud with WWE Superstar Chris Jericho, as part of a storyline. The storyline climaxed at WrestleMania XXV, when Rourke knocked out Jericho with a left hook after Jericho won his match against Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat, and Roddy Piper, with Ric Flair in their corner.
In 2009, Rourke starred in John Rich's music video for Shuttin' Detroit Down alongside Kris Kristofferson.
In 2009, Rourke voiced protagonist US Navy SEAL Dick Marcinko in the video game Rogue Warrior. The game received very poor reviews from critics.
In 2010, Rourke played the role of the main villain Whiplash in the film Iron Man 2, in an interview with Rip It Up Magazine he revealed that he prepared for the role by visiting Russian jail inmates. He also had a supporting role playing 'Tool' in Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables.
Just before the end of the year, he confirmed on a British TV talk show that he would play Gareth Thomas in an upcoming film about the Welsh rugby star who came out as gay the previous year. As of February 2011, he had begun research on the film, but noted, "We're not going to make this movie until we've done all the proper research. We need to do our homework and I need to train for from nine to 11 months."
Rourke's political views came under fire when he claimed to have donated part of his salary from the 1989 film Francesco to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He later retracted the statement, although he has an IRA symbol tattoo.
Rourke has dated several celebrities, including Terry Farrell and Sasha Volkova. He has been married twice. In 1981, he married Debra Feuer, whom he met on the set of Hardcase (1981) and who co-starred with him in Homeboy (1990) as his love interest. The marriage ended in 1989, with Rourke subsequently commenting that making the film 9½ Weeks "was not particularly considerate to my wife's needs." The two have remained good friends, according to an interview Feuer gave in 2009. Wild Orchid co-star Carré Otis was briefly a cause célèbre following the release of the film owing to rumours that she and then-lover Rourke filmed an unsimulated sex scene. Otis married Rourke on June 26, 1992. In 1994, Rourke was arrested for spousal abuse. The charges were later dropped. The couple reconciled and also starred together in Exit in Red, but their marriage ended in December 1998. In November 2007, Rourke was arrested again, this time on DUI charges in Miami Beach.
In numerous TV and print interviews, he attributes his comeback after fourteen years to weekly meetings with a psychiatrist, "Steve," and to a Catholic priest he identified as "Father Pete."
Rourke is also a motorcycle enthusiast and uses motorcycles in some of his films.
In addition to his faith and his psychiatric treatment, Rourke has publicly attributed his comeback to his dogs. He is well-known as a pet fancier, particularly fond of small-breed dogs. A spay/neuter advocate, Rourke participated in a protest outside of a pet shop in 2007 and has done a public service announcement for PETA.
His first little dog was reportedly a gift from his second wife. Though Rourke's dogs are generally referred to as "chihuahua," some are not pure-bred. Loki, his most-publicized dog whom he described as "the love of my life," was a chihuahua-terrier mix. So reliant was Rourke on Loki's companionship, he spent US$5,400 to have her flown to England while he was on the set of the film Stormbreaker.
Rourke gave his dogs credit during his Golden Globe Best Actor acceptance speech January 11, 2009: "I'd like to thank all my dogs. The ones that are here, the ones that aren't here anymore because sometimes when a man's alone, that's all you got is your dog. And they've meant the world to me." The day of the 2009 Golden Globes show, he told Barbara Walters that "I sort of self-destructed and everything came out about fourteen years ago or so ... the wife had left, the career was over, the money was not an ounce. The dogs were there when no one else was there." Asked by Walters if he had considered suicide, he responded:
Despite being identified as "Lowjack" in the transcription above, the dog in the anecdote was apparently Beau Jack, who sired two of Rourke's later pets, Loki and her littermate Chocolate. Beau Jack died in 2002, though Rourke gave him 45 minutes of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Chocolate was the subject of a children's book, Chocolate at the Four Seasons, about his temporary stay with producer Bonnie Timmerman. Chocolate returned to Rourke and died in 2006. In addition to those dogs and several other past pets, Rourke currently owns a chihuahua named Jaws who appeared with him in his 2009 PETA ad, as well as in the film "Man on Fire." He has had as many as seven dogs at one time, back in 2005. At the time of his Golden Globes tribute to his pets, Rourke owned five chihuahuas: Loki, Jaws, Ruby Baby, La Negra and Bella Loca. About a month later, on February 18, 2009, Loki died in Rourke's arms at the age of 18.