MICKEY ROURKE | I THOUGHT TALENT WOULD TRANSCEND MY OUTSPOKENESS

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1983 — Mickey Rourke, Motorcycle Boy, Coppola’s “Rumble Fish”  – Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS


Mickey Rourke – the most raw, intense, riveting actor of the 1980s, who slowly self-destructed before our eyes.  He gained a reputation for having a chip on his shoulder, and through his pride and bravado burned a lot of bridges in the biz.  Rourke brashly looked down his nose at his peers, insisting that he wouldn’t sell-out – he was pure and uncompromising.  Back when Rourke was coming up on the heels of of heroes- De Niro, Pacino, Keitel, Walken – he was too young, too full of himself, and too foolish to know that at the end of the day, it’s a business before anything else – and politics reigns supreme.

Rourke then made few questionable film choices with 9 1/2 Weeks and Wild Orchid and suddenly he was no longer Hollywood’s prized young lion – he was branded sleazy Euro-trash.  Disillusioned with it all, Rourke walked away – choosing to fight the inner demons that had dogged him all his life in the boxing ring.  Ironically, it was in the ring again, that Rourke fought like hell for his esteem and redemption as “Randy the Ram”, a disfigured down-and-out wrestler – and came out on top.  Hollywood couldn’t have written a better comeback – in a seemingly hopeless situation, hope and hard work can get you through.

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1983 — Mickey Rourke, Motorcycle Boy in “Rumble Fish” — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1983 — Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish”

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1983 — Mickey Rourke as the Motorcycle Boy in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic flick, “Rumble Fish”

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September 1983– Director Francis Ford Coppola with Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke on the set of “Rumble Fish” — Image by © Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis

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1983 — Mickey Rouke, the Motorcycle Boy  in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish”

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“The Motorcycle Boy Reigns” — Rumble Fish.  Image– Caroline Bonarde Ucci via

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1983 — Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish”

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1983 — Mickey Rourke, the Motorcycle Boy in “Rumble Fish” — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1983 — Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish”

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September, 1983 — Director Francis Ford Coppola (and Mickey Rourke in the background) on the set of his 1983 movie “Rumble Fish”  – Image by © Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis

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1983 — Matt Dillon & Mickey Rourke in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” — Universal Pictures still

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1981 — Mickey Rourke & William Hurt in “Body Heat”  – Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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(Lt.) 1981 — Mickey Rourke, as Teddy Lewis, in “Body Heat” — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

1984 — Mickey Rourke in “The Pope of Greenwich Village” — Image by © John Bryson/Sygma/Corbis

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1984 — Mickey Rourke, Daryl Hannah, and Eric Roberts on the set of “The Pope of Greenwich Village” directed by Stuart Rosenberg. — Image by © John Bryson/Sygma/Corbis

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1986 — Mickey Rourke and director Barbet Schroeder on the set of Schroeder’s 1987 movie “Barfly”  – Image by © Albane Navizet/Sygma/Corbis

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1987 — Mickey Rourke on the set of “Homeboy” — Image by © Christophe d’Yvoire/Sygma/Corbis

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1982 — Publicity still for “Diner”,  the film that put the bad-boy Mickey Rourke on the map.  Also starring– Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon and Timothy Daly. — Image by © CinemaPhoto/Corbis

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1982 — Publicity still for the film ,”Diner”, starring– Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon and Timothy Daly. — Image by © CinemaPhoto/Corbis

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1983 — Matt Dillon & Mickey Rourke in “Rumble Fish”, based on S.E. Hinton’s novel.  Rourke’s anti-hero “Motorcycle Boy” powers Rumble Fish– Copolla’s iconic art film for teens. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1983 — Mickey Rourke on the set of “Rumble Fish” — Images by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1983, Oklahoma  – Mickey Rourke on the set of “Rumble Fish”– written, directed, and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1984 — Mickey Rourke, riveting as Charlie– the badass, best-dressed maître d’ in “The Pope of Greenwich Village” — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1984 — Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke on th set of “The Pope of Greenwich Village”

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1984 — Mickey Rourke, Daryl Hannah, and Eric Roberts on the set of “The Pope of Greenwich Village” directed by Stuart Rosenberg. – Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

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1985 — Mickey Rourke as Capt. Stanley White in the much under-rated Michael Cimino crime flick, “Year of the Dragon”.  A Tarantino fave. — Image by © CORBIS

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1985 — Mickey Rourke, “Year of the Dragon” – Image by © Marianne Rosenstiehl/Sygma/Corbis

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1987 — Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel in “Angel Heart”

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(Lt.) 1986 — Mickey Rourke — Image by © Albane Navizet/Kipa/Corbis

1988 — Christopher Walken & Mickey Rourke on the set “Homeboy” — Image by © Christophe d’Yvoire /Sygma/Corbis*

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1987 — Mickey Rourke & Faye Dunaway in “Barfly”.  Rourke crushed it as drunkard Henry Chinaski, a semi-autobiographical portrayal of author & poet Charles Bukowski’s hard livin’ years in L.A.
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1987 — Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski in “Barfly”, directed by Barbet Schroeder.

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1987 — Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski in “Barfly”, directed by Barbet Schroeder.

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1987 — Mickey Rourke & Faye Dunaway in “Barfly” — Image by © Christophe d’Yvoire/Sygma/Corbis

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1987 — Mickey Rourke & Faye Dunaway in “Barfly”, directed by Barbet Schroeder.

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1987 — Mickey Rourke and director Barbet Schroeder on the set of his film, “Barfly” — Image by © Christophe d’Yvoire/Sygma/Corbis

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1986 — Mickey Rourke & Faye Dunaway on the set of Barbet Schroeder’s “Barfly”  – Image by © Albane Navizet/Kipa/Corbis

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1986 — Mickey Rourke on the set of “Barfly” — Image by © Albane Navizet/Kipa/Corbis

(Rt.) Paris, 1985 — Mickey Rourke — Image by © Marianne Rosenstiehl/Sygma/Corbis

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1986 — Mickey Rourke & Debra Feuer — Image by © Catherine Cabrol/Kipa/Corbis

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1984 — Mickey Rourke in New York. — Image by © Catherine Cabrol/Kipa/Corbis

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1991 found Rourke disillusioned with the seedy & sordid life he’d fallen into, so he climbed back into the ring to battle his self-destructive demons and regain a little self-respect.  After going undefeated in 12 pro fights – 10 wins, and 2 draws, Rourke hung up his gloves in ’95 — but that’s not to say he didn’t take a beating in the ring.  Rourke suffered a broken nose, toe, & ribs, as well as a split tongue, and a busted cheekbone. All the pounding beat the stuffin’ outta Mickey’s mug, and the resulting reconstructive surgery fell short of making things right.  Now, not only was his acting career over, but he was also a freak show. Ironically, it would be his transformed looks and skills in the ring that resurrected his Hollywood career, when Rourke put on his big-boy tights and played Randy “The Ram” in The Wrestler. — Image by © Steve Starr/CORBIS

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Mickey Rourke

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“Comeback is a good word, man.”  – Mickey Rourke

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20 thoughts on “MICKEY ROURKE | I THOUGHT TALENT WOULD TRANSCEND MY OUTSPOKENESS

  1. i love mickey rourke. his talent and charisma are undeniable, but mickey rourke doesn’t deserve you.

    phenomenal work.

    • I love the underdog, and stories of redemption. Mickey came through in spades this year, and seems to be pretty enlightened re: his past woeful ways. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

      Best,

      JP

  2. Good to see Rourke back doing what he does best, suprised there was no photos of the rourke of today, To say his life hasn’t allowed him to “Age Well” is an understatement….

    the man is the Brando of our times with Depp a close second

  3. Mickey is my youth. He is our generation’s Brando or Dean. Just like him we lost our way (and Hollywood with us) and ended up in movie wastelands we are today. Ah and a small ‘correction’. That’s Debra Feuer Mickey’s wife at the time.

  4. Cheek implants, steroids, questionable boxing wins, but I photographed him @ vanity fair party after he lost for The Wrestler (2008) movie & he was gracious . He had suffered for his art, they forgave him & he is back in the fold.

  5. Gorgeous photos. I took my son to see Iron Man II, (okay, not the same calibre as his other films, but the kid wanted to see it) and I couldn’t take my eyes off Rourke. I found his face and movements very beautiful.

  6. I really enjoy his work and am glad to see he is making a comeback, so to say. Speaking of Kim Basinger and aging, look at Alec Baldwin in Beetlejuice (only 21 years ago) and then now. It’s amazing how much drug abuse accelerates aging. I wonder what health problems Mr. Rourke has as a result of his lifestyle. Boxing is a notorious risk factor for neurodegenerative disease.

  7. JP you have some serious stones doing these breakdowns of Mickey, Dean, McQueeen etc. Top shelf stuff. Diner is criminally underrepresented on the blogs, cant imagine why though. Great era (time period, and that era of filmmaking). Sidenote, Rourke and Nic Cage have practically coem back together; fans of both here. We wanted to be the subterranian baker from Moonstruck and the quiet puncher from Homeboy (http://10engines.blogspot.com/2009/09/homeboy.html) …

    agian, off the charts. jf

  8. Mickey Rourke was way, way overdue for a comeback. I am so pleased that people are now going back to see his previous greatness, in Rumble Fish (one of my fav movies of all time), Pope of Greenwich Village, Diner, and his amazing cameo in The Crossing Guard. But it is a crime that his best performance – Barfly – is unavailable on dvd or blu ray. I still have my old VHS, but no VCR. Hopefully Criterion will do a full release, with all the restoration and extras it deserves.

  9. I meant The Pledge, not The Crossing Guard. Got my Sean Penn directed films mixed up.

    Sorry guys!

    Great piece btw…always love TSY

  10. No mention of Harley Davidson and Marlboro Man? Not Oscar material but I thought it was entertaining and some good bike riding.

    Great article as always though, thanks.

  11. Another one of your observations down a dark and sometimes unpleasant hole. (Note: I am not criticizing this choice.) I hate seeing talent thrown away. Once a rugged kind of handsome, he’s hideous now. Let’s hope his example is something we can learn from.

    • The sad part is that he has done excellent work in several movies in between without being taken seriously. His “cook” in Spun was dead on, and really that whole movie was way too close to reality. Its good to see him getting the parts he deserves now.

  12. Once again, a strange mix of my faves: motorcycles, Tom Waits, B/W movies and photography (how you could talk about Rumble Fish and not mention Waits is beyond me). Well done, as usual. I would, however, mention Sin City, with Mickey Rourke as Marv. He’s a battler, messed up by years of fighting anyone who would fight him, and completely rejected by society. I’d say that’s MR in a nutshell. Just watched Rumble Fish again this weekend (it’s on NetFlix watch-it-now) and looked back at a few of his other things. One side note about Rumble Fish the movie: The book’s author shows up in the movie as a hooker who is shooed away by the actors. Good form on her part, I thought.

  13. As lousy as Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man was, Rourke has some great lines – “Better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool”- and some entertaining scenes, like the opening scene of him leaving his lady in bed (presumably wanting more) and riding his bike back to LA, and the bar fight with Big John Stud. He has a charisma that only the greats have, like Steve McQueen. He was also the only good thing about Domino, and he looked great in that movie, since he didn’t have the goofy hairstyle and was in shape physically. His face looked like it had seen a lot of life, but wasn’t swollen or puffy like it seems so often nowadays.

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