Philip Andre "Mickey" Rourke, Jr. is an American actor, who has appeared primarily in action, drama and thriller films. Trained as a boxer in his early years, Rourke had a short stint as a pro fighter in the 1990s. He has won one Golden Globe award and was nominated for a SAG award for his work in the film The Wrestler.
Rourke was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Ann and Philip Andre Rourke, Sr., who was an amateur body builder. His family is Catholic and of Irish and French descent. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother to southern Florida, where he attended Miami Beach Senior High School. (There are some reports that Rourke took drama classes with the legendary "Teacher to the Stars", Jay W. Jensen, even appearing in at least one stage-play. However, the "P. Rourke" listed in that play's credits could have been his sister, Patricia Rourke, who also attended Miami Beach Senior High School.)
Rourke's teenage years were more aimed toward sports than acting. Rourke claims he was raised in the tough inner-city neighbourhood of Liberty City. However, a 1971 Natilus Junior High School telephone directory lists Rourke's sister's address as Miami Beach. Regardless, Rourke took up self-defense training at the Boys Club of Miami. It was there that he learned boxing skills and decided on an amateur career. At the age of 12, Rourke won his first boxing match as a 118-pound bantamweight. Some of his early matches were fought as Andre Rourke.
He continued his boxing training at the famed 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, Florida; joining the Police Athletic League boxing program. In 1969, Rourke, then weighing 140 lbs., sparred with former World Welterweight Champion Luis Rodríguez. Rodriguez was the number one rated middleweight boxer in the world, and was training for his match with world champion Nino Benvenuti. Rourke claims to have received a concussion in this sparring match.
In 1971, at the Florida Golden Gloves, he received another concussion in a boxing match. After being told by doctors to take a year off and rest, Rourke temporarily retired from the ring. From 1968 to 1973, he compiled an amateur record of 20-7 (17 knockouts), which included wins over Ron Carter, Charles Gathers, and Joe Riles. At one point, he reportedly scored 12 consecutive first-round knockouts.
An article on Rourke in the New York Times Magazine on November 30, 2008 featured quotations from Rourke's stepfather disputing all of Rourke's claims of having been a boxer in his youth, and the reporter indicated that records of his participation in the Golden Gloves program could not be located.
Early acting roles
Rourke's film debut was a small role in Steven Spielberg's film 1941. However, it was his portrayal of an arsonist in Body Heat that garnered significant attention, despite his modest time onscreen. He mostly appeared in television movies in his early career. During the early 1980s, Rourke starred in the cult classic Diner, which also starred Paul Reiser, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly and Kevin Bacon. He won two awards for his performance in Diner. Soon after, Rourke starred in Francis Ford Coppola's follow-up to The Outsiders, the coming-of-age tale, Rumble Fish. Playing the enigmatic older brother of Matt Dillon's character, he was praised as a standout in a film that also featured such talents as Dennis Hopper, Vincent Spano, Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Tom Waits.
Rourke's performance in the film The Pope of Greenwich Village alongside Daryl Hannah and Eric Roberts also caught the attention of critics. While the film was a box office flop during its initial release, it has become something of a minor cult hit. Actor Johnny Depp calls it "perfect cinema". Rourke has said the film is his favorite movie, and both Hannah and Roberts have cited it as a highlight of their careers.
In the mid-1980s, Rourke earned himself additional leading roles. His role alongside Kim Basinger in the controversial, panned, sexually-themed box-office hit 9½ Weeks helped him gain "sex symbol" status. He received critical praise for his work in Barfly as the alcoholic writer Henry Chinaski (the literary alter ego of Charles Bukowski) and in the Oliver Stone-penned Year of the Dragon. In 1987, Rourke appeared in Angel Heart. The film, which also stars Robert De Niro, was directed by Alan Parker and nominated for several awards. It was seen as controversial by some due to a sex scene involving Cosby Show cast member Lisa Bonet, who won an award for her part in the film . Although some of Rourke's work was viewed as controversial in the U.S., he was well-received by European, and especially French, audiences, who loved the "rumpled, slightly dirty, sordid ... rebel persona" that he projected in Year of the Dragon, 9½ Weeks, Angel Heart, and Desperate Hours.
In the late 1980s, Rourke performed with musician David Bowie on the Never Let Me Down album. Around this same time, he also wrote his first screenplay, Homeboy, a boxing tale in which he starred. In 1989, Rourke starred in the docu-drama Francesco, portraying St. Francis of Assisi. In 1991, he starred in the box office bomb Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man as Harley Davidson, a biker whose best friend, Marlboro, was played by Miami Vice star Don Johnson. This was followed by Wild Orchid, another critically panned film, which gained him a nomination for a Razzie award (also for Desperate Hours).
Rourke's acting career eventually became overshadowed by his personal life and seemingly eccentric career decisions. Directors such as Alan Parker found it difficult to work with him. Parker stated that "working with Mickey is a nightmare. He is very dangerous on the set because you never know what he is going to do". He is alleged to have turned down a number of high-profile acting roles, including Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Tom Cruise's role in Rain Man, Nick Nolte's part in 48 Hrs., Christopher Lambert's part in Highlander and a part in Platoon. In a documentary on the special edition DVD of Tombstone, actor Michael Biehn, who plays the part of Johnny Ringo, mentions that his role was first offered to Rourke.
From actor to boxer
In 1991, Rourke decided that he "…had to go back to boxing" because he felt that he "… was self-destructing … (and) had no respect for myself being an actor." When Rourke became a professional boxer, he was unbeaten with one draw facing minor opponents. He never achieved national prominence and he suffered a number of injuries, including a broken nose, toe, ribs, a split tongue, and a compressed cheekbone His trainer during his boxing career was Hells Angels member Chuck Zito.
Boxing promoters stated that Rourke was too old to do well against top-level fighters. Indeed, Rourke himself admits that entering the ring was a sort of personal test: "(I) just wanted to give it a shot, test myself that way physically, while I still had time (interview in The Gate with Christopher Heard)." In 1995, Rourke retired from boxing and returned to acting.
1990s: return to acting
In the early 1990s, Quentin Tarantino offered Rourke the part of Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction. Rourke declined, and the role eventually was offered to Matt Dillon and Sylvester Stallone, before Bruce Willis invested in the film and was given the part. After his retirement from boxing, Rourke did accept supporting roles in several 1990s films, including Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of John Grisham's The Rainmaker, Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66, Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory, Sean Penn's The Pledge and Sylvester Stallone's remake of Get Carter. Rourke also has written several films under the name "Sir" Eddie Cook, including Bullet, in which he co-starred with Tupac Shakur.
While Rourke was also selected for a significant role in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, Rourke's part ended up on the editing room floor. Rourke also played a small part in the film Thursday, in which he plays a crooked cop. He also had a lead role in 1997's Double Team, which co-starred martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was Rourke's first over-the-top action film role, in which he played the lead villain. During that same year, he filmed Another 9½ Weeks, a sequel to 9½ Weeks, which only received limited distribution. He ended the 1990s with the direct-to-video films Out in Fifty, Shades and television movie Shergar, which is about kidnapping of Epsom Derby winning thoroughbred racehorse Shergar.
In 2001, he appeared as the villain in Enrique Iglesias's music video for Hero which also featured Jennifer Love Hewitt. In 2002, Rourke took the role of The Cook in Jonas Åkerlund's Spun, teaming up once again with Eric Roberts. His first collaborations with directors Robert Rodriguez and Tony Scott in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Man on Fire, were for smaller roles. Nonetheless, these directors subsequently decided to cast Rourke in lead roles in their next films.
In 2005, Rourke made his comeback in mainstream Hollywood circles with a lead role (Marv) in Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City. Rourke received awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the IFTA and the Online Film Critics Society, as well as "Man of the Year" from Total Film magazine that year. Rourke followed Sin City with a supporting role in Tony Scott's Domino alongside Keira Knightley, in which he played a bounty hunter.
Rourke played the role of The Blackbird in an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Killshot, the role of "Darrius Sayle" in an adaptation of the Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker. He will also appear alongside Ray Liotta in John McNaughton's The Night Job, as well as reprising the role of "Marv" in the Dame to Kill For segment of Sin City 2.
In addition, in 2003, Rourke provided the voice for "Jericho" in the third installment of the Driver video game series. Rourke also recently appeared in a 40-page story by photographer Bryan Adams for Berlin's Zoo Magazine. In an article about Rourke's return to steady acting roles, entitled Mickey Rourke Rising (from The Gate), Christopher Heard stated that actors/musicians Tupac Shakur, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt have "…animated praise for Rourke and his work."
Despite having withdrawn from acting at various points, and having made movies that he now sees as a creative "sell-out" (the action film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man), Rourke has stated that "…all that I have been through…[has] made me a better, more interesting actor." Rourke's renewed interest in pursuing acting can be seen in his statement that "…my best work is still ahead of me" (article in The Gate).
In November 2006, during an interview, he called Tom Cruise "a cunt" for his attacks on Brooke Shields and psychiatry. In February 2007 he was in South Beach, Florida, protesting against a puppy store he claims sells dogs with parvo. He wanted the store to shut down, claiming a puppy he bought for his friend at the store died. He was supported with other activists.
Mickey signed up to act in the movie version of the The Informers in the role of Peter, an amoral former studio security guard who plots to kidnap a small child.
Mickey is the lead in The Wrestler, winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, about washed-up professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson. For the part, Mickey underwent actual pro wrestling training under former WWE wrestler Afa the Wild Samoan. Rourke has been nominated for best actor for the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards with fellow actors Sean Penn of Milk, Jeremy Renner of The Hurt Locker, along with Javier Bardem, and Richard Jenkins. He received his first Golden Globe for best actor for his role.
Political and religious views
Rourke's political views came under fire when he claimed to have donated part of his salary from the 1989 film, Francesco, to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He later backed away from that statement, although he has an IRA symbol tattooed on his left forearm. Rourke is a Roman Catholic.
Rourke has dated several celebrities including Terry Farrell and Sasha Volkova. He has been married twice. In 1981 he married Debra Feuer, whom he met on the set of Hardcase (1981) and who co-starred with him in Homeboy (1988) as his love interest. The marriage ended in 1989.
Wild Orchid co-star Carré Otis was briefly a cause célèbre following the release of Wild Orchid due to rumors she and then-lover Rourke filmed an unsimulated sex scene. She married Rourke on June 26, 1992.
In 1994 Rourke was arrested for spousal abuse. The charges were dropped after the couple reconciled. They gave their relationship another chance and also starred together in Exit in Red but their marriage ended in December, 1998.
In November 2007, Rourke was arrested again, this time on DUI charges in Miami Beach.
Mickey Rourke is a motorcycle enthusiast and uses motorcycles in some of his films. He used to own a gym in West Hollywood called Shapiro. Mickey trained as an actor with Sandra Seacat for many years before beginning to work professionally. He was a close friend of Bullet co-star Tupac Shakur. He has written or co-written 6 scripts: Homeboy, The Last Ride, Bullet, Killer Moon, Penance and the latest, Pain. Of these only the first three have been produced as movies.