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."


  • [A] says:

    Can't wait to see it.

  • pauline says:

    I going to see especially edition of Inside the Actors Studio beccause Mickey Rourke is my favorite actor in the world.

  • Jimmy says:

    Yo, Micky... we love you Broo...

  • AnnaV.Carroll says:

    So much is written about James Lipton's guests and virtually nothing is written about James Lipton. From 1997 to 2001 I was one of Mr. Lipton's Transcribers. Over the years I got to know the people involved in putting this program on the air. They are all incredibly hard working, creative and kind people. Got to meet Mr. Lipton backstage eight yrs. ago when I was introduced to Val Kilmer. Mr. Kilmer had been in a film with my mentor and former husband. While I was delighted to meet Mr. Kilmer, I spent most of the time talking about what a national treasure Mr. Lipton was and is. Kilmer agreed. Let's hear more about what this man has done to bring Art to our homes every week for years. The art of talk. The art of learning about the people whose films we watch. He is a very kind, caring, thoroughly professional man who deserves to be the guest on one of his shows! Maybe Tom Hanks could play the James Lipton role. The best one I ever saw? Kevin Spacey, hands down. The night was electric! Mr. Spacey was magical. Let's hear it for Mr. Lipton!

  • Emperor Joshua Norton says:

    WTF? Bouncers nao plz. It's code, see?

  • Dan Barnes says:

    Um, Lipton was a guest on his own show... famously last year, when Dave Chappelle interviewed him at length. That said, Lipton is a legend, and his latest biography is definitely worth a read -- if simply for all the backstage machinations behind the Actor's Studio....