Five Things You Didn't Know About Mickey Rourke
On August 31, you'll have the opportunity to see James Lipton emotionally pummel Mickey Rourke during an especially probing edition of Inside the Actors Studio. Thanks to the released sneak previews, Movieline was able to cut through the oft-repeated stories of lap dogs and Rourke's "long darkness of self-imposed banishment" to glean five new facts about, as Lipton puts it, "one of the most remarkable careers in the history of American film."
1. How he got into acting: After a drug deal gone wrong left him frightened for his life, Rourke's sister gave him $400 to move to New York City and embark on his acting career.
2. The bravest person he ever met: His younger brother Joey. In October 2004, Rourke visited Joey, who was dying of lung cancer. Joey's nurse pulled Rourke aside and said, "Look, I've been doing this 30 years. Joey should have left 3 or 4 days ago. Do you know the reason why he's here?"
Rourke immediately understood, returned to Joey and told him, "It's okay to go." Joey passed within 30 seconds. Rourke tears up through this story and reveals that he has a tattoo commemorating his brother.
3. His favorite kind of directors: Well-prepared directors" who "will challenge you" like The Wrestler's Darren Aronofsky.
4. How he was cast in The Pope of Greenwich Village without an audition: Rourke ran into the movie's producer Gene Kirkwood, fresh off of Kirkwood's Rocky success. Upon learning that Rourke wanted the role, Kirkwood paraded him into MGM's office and simply said, "I got the pope here." The studio head replied, "Whatever you want, Gene."
5. Why he reconnected with his father: When he had a hard time relating to the father figure in his Actors Studio audition scene (from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), the casting director suggested he track down his father, who Rourke hadn't seen in twenty years.
The next day, Rourke returned to the Schenectady, New York White Castle he and his father frequented two decades earlier. Rourke recognized the back and arms of another patron and realized that it was his father. After chasing his dad down outside the restaurant, Rourke's father gave him $50, bought Rourke dinner and then proceeded to pound 22 screwdrivers as they talked. That was the last time Rourke ever saw him.
When Rourke returned to audition the next day, Lipton reveals that "Actors Studio founder Elia Kazan famously said it was the best audition he had seen in thirty years."