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.


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



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


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The Rourke Club.


I guess you either like Mickey Rourke, or you don’t.  I am a huge fan of his early work– Diner, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Rumblefish and Barfly.  Rourke had an intensity and edge that wasn’t an act or a persona, you felt it was really him.  He made people uncomfortable and still does– only in a different way now.  But somewhere along the way, we lost Mickey– or he lost us.  He got squirrelly, and his face started morphing faster than Jiffy Pop over a campfire– and he started hanging out with the likes of Dennis Rodman and Jean Claude Van Damme– what’s that all about?  I hope the old “birds of a feather” saying isn’t always true for your sake, brother.

Christopher Walken interviews Rourke (the crazy leading the crazy) for Interview magazine.  Lots of good nuggets to mine–

MR: I was so nervous working with you. I think you had already won your Academy Award forThe Deer Hunter [1978].

CW: Just, like, a month before we started shooting. I was probably really obnoxious at the time.

MR: Well, you were actors’ royalty, brother. I mean, you were someone we all looked up to.

CW: No, I was probably a pain in the ass.

MR: Well, you were always, like, this strange being from another place. Continue reading