A Moment of Praise: M&C Tribute to Mickey Rourke
By April MacIntyre and Patrick Luce Dec 5, 2008, 13:57 GMT
Back in the late ‘80s, Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a headlining professional wrestler. Now, twenty years later, he ekes out a living performing for handfuls of diehard wrestling fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey. Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and unable to sustain any real relationships, Randy lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans. However, ...more
Actor Mickey Rourke has weathered much in the last few years, and taken a bashing for his refusal to age gracefully. His redemptive, critically acclaimed performance in The Wrestler sparks resurgence in his career for him. The film took the big festivals by storm. (A Golden Lion at Venice and Toronto)
Rourke is nearly unrecognizable - heavier, his face and body scarred - and inhabits the role of a has-been fighter with a quiet regalness.
Rourke pulls out a tour de force doing what he has always done best: Play the role strong, sensitive and perfect for the role at hand.
With Rourke flexing his acting muscle, Monsters and Critics thought it was time to take a look at the actor’s career - noting our personal stand out favorite performances for the Schenectady New York kid and what some might call a few missteps along the way.
Diner - Robert 'Boogie' Sheftell
“If you don't have good dreams, Bagel, you got nightmares.” – Boogie Sheftell.
Rourke stole the movie in Barry Levinson’s masterful coming-of-age 1982 film “Diner.”
This was Rourke on the edge of being a man. Of all the guys he seemed most comfortable in his own skin, and played his dreamer Boogie with heart, conscience and a winning sex appeal that made women love him, and guys like him for his humor, balls and loyalty.
Rourke’s scenes with Ellen Barkin (Beth) were standout. Levinson’s casting director Ellen Chenoweth put together one of the best ensembles in the original “bromance” film made in the recent past. If you have never seen this film, smack yourself and go out and get it. Great soundtrack.
Rumble Fish - The Motorcycle Boy
“California's like a beautiful, wild... beautiful, wild girl on heroin... who's high as a kite, thinkin' she's on top of the world, not knowing she's dying even if you show her the marks.” – Motorcycle Boy
An enigmatic dreamer, The Motorcycle Boy abandons neighborhood turf wars and his baby brother Rusty to figure out how to fry the bigger fish in life, the important lessons instead of acting out.
Their parents are wastes of life; school doesn’t work and all they have is poverty, reputation and swagger. Rourke tries to help him become a man in this beautiful, stylish coming of age 1983 film by Francis Ford Coppola.
Diane Lane delivers a smoldering, knockout performance in this film too. If you have never seen this film, smack yourself extra hard and go out and get it. Great soundtrack.
The Pope of Greenwich Village - Charlie
“Mister. I am the Pope, this might be your church, right now I'm the Pope of Greenwich Village 'cause I got the tape alright?” –Charlie
One of the best under-the-radar films of the eighties; this showed off Rourke as a man, confident and prepossessed in frame. Possibly his coolest role. He and Eric Roberts (Paulie) had electric chemistry together, with Charlie always looking out for his ne’er do well cousin.
Paulie steps in shit - it stinks. Charlie steps in it - roses. Director Stuart Rosenberg picked a fantastic DP, John Bailey, who shot the New York neighborhoods with real artistry and love with great detail to the light.
The film is dotted with great character actors like M. Emmett Walsh and the years later ‘Sopranos’ cast of heavies. This is one of Eric Roberts’ finest performances too. Daryl Hannah, not so much.
9 1/2 Weeks - John
“I saw myself in you” – John
Adrian Lyne’s 1986 film of sexual obsession to the point of near consumption was a great study in the difference between men and women’s sexual natures. Again, an enigmatic, carnivorous player John masterfully manipulates a woman in a chance meeting who succumbs to their raw sexual chemistry.
Rourke succeeds beautifully in this role because of the understated way he plays John; he never gives too much away.
Basinger’s Elizabeth comes out of her sexual ether and slowly craves the human connection, less the animal. Rourke becomes a sexual icon and major leading man after this role.
Angel Heart - Harry Angel
“Louis Cyphere... Lucifer. Even your NAME is a dime store joke.”- Harry Angel
Well before M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Sixth Sense’, there was Alan Parker’s brilliant 1987 thriller that took a cocksure Rourke as the unshaven and slobbish Harry Angel, a Brooklyn PI know it all who meets Louis Cyphere (DeNiro), and is hired and sent on a mission that becomes a descent into the supernatural and frightening self-discovery as Harry discovers the horrifying true nature of his investigation.
Lisa Bonet shed her good girl Cosby image completely in her role as a Voodoo priestess.
Side note: I never ate a hard-boiled egg again after I saw this stylish thriller-horror film. Truly frightening, and a masterful performance by Rourke.
Barfly - Henry Chinaski
"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." - Henry
This 1987 film directed by Barbet Schroeder based on a Charles Bukowski play that featured Rourke as Henry in a roman a clef tribute performance to Bukowski's life. The skid row poet and writer lived in the dark shadows of cheap bars, women and drinking all day and night. Henry's chance meeting with Wanda (Faye Dunaway) yield some of the best scenes (and lines) in the film, and show off her incredible talent. The film was considered one of the best in 1987, a great year for Mickey Rourke.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man - Harley Davidson
"It’s better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool” - Harley Davidson
A motorcycle/buddy action flick that teamed Rourke with Don Johnson in a plot that sees a bunch of losers (named after booze, motorcycles and cigarettes) taking on a drug dealing banker to save the bar they grew up in.
The movie was easily forgettable and far from great. However, Rourke and Johnson manage to bring their cool to the roles and the film can be a lot of fun – if you turn your brain off.
Animal Factory - Jan the Actress
Rourke dropped his macho image for a turn as a transvestite for Animal Factory by director Steve Buscemi. It is a small role, but Rourke manages to steal the screen from the other actors and shows why many consider him one of Hollywood’s great actors.
The film is a basic prison tale about a young kid trying to survive behind bars, but features solid performance from Willem Dafoe and Edward Furlong.
Sin City – Marv
“This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war.” – Marv
For many people, Sin City is what put Mickey Rourke back on the map, and it is impossible to see anyone else playing Marv on the big screen. From his voiceover work to the way he was shot in the film’s black and white, Rourke was Marv and made Sin City a movie to remember.
Like the actor, Marv is relentless and refuses to lie down and die. Rourke handles the role with grit and a violence that is constantly just under the skin of the character.
Domino - Ed Mosbey
“And who would know it? The gatekeepers of humanity turn out to be a bunch of sassy black women.” - Ed
Tony Scott's Domino is a bit of a hit and miss. The movie has plenty to love - including Rourke's performance as bounty hunter Ed Mosbey - but lots to hate. Rourke's Ed Mosbey is not a guy you want chasing you down.
Like Marv from Sin City, Rourke plays Mosbey as a straight forward shooter. He isn't a bad guy, but isn't afraid to bend a few laws to get the job done.
Rourke also had several films where he had an impact despite just a brief appearance. These films include Tony Scott’s remake Man on Fire, Robert Rodriguez’ Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sean Penn’s The Pledge, Stephen T. Kay’s remake Get Carter and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker.
With The Wrestler getting Rourke Oscar buzz, it is clear the actor has no plans to fade away quietly. Like many of the characters he plays on the big screen, Rourke seems to keep moving forward with no plans to quit or let anyone knock him down.