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INT: Mickey Rourke


If any actor ever deserved the middle name “F*ckin’,” it’s Mickey Rourke. Why? Because he’s Mickey F*ckin’ Rourke, that’s why. You’ll never hear people talk about Angela F*ckin’ Lansbury or Elijah F*ckin’ Wood, because those people, while certainly talented, simply don’t kick nearly as much ass as our beloved Mickey. It’s all the guy knows how to do.

Rourke also happens to be one of the most candid people you’ll ever come across. He steadfastly refuses to pull any punches, especially when talking about the early missteps that helped to derail a once-promising career. Banished to the “Where are they now?” file after a series of mediocre films and some erratic behavior, he was given a second chance when filmmaker Robert Rodriguez tapped him to play the bad guy in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. Then came his landmark performance as the heartbroken thug Marv in Rodriguez’s SIN CITY, and suddenly the he’s back on the map and in demand. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

This week he teams up with Tony Scott again (Rourke was in Scott’s underrated MAN ON FIRE) for DOMINO, a story based on the life of model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey. M

ickey stopped by the Four Seasons last week about DOMINO. He also gave a few hints about the SIN CITY 2. Check it out. 

Mickey Rourke

What did you think when you first saw the Domino script?

I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because…well, I had a choice. Guy Ritchie had offered me REVOLVER at the same time that this thing came around, but yet Tony Scott kinda gave me a job at a time when it was hard for me to get work. I’d had a relationship with Tony. I liked REVOLVER because it was a little out there and interesting and I’m a big fan of Guy Ritchie. Then the (Domino) material came in and it was written…Ed was written as just a macho, one-dimensional, kind of stereotypical bounty hunter kind of guy, and I thought, “F*ck. I don’t even have to f*ckin’ read the script to do this thing,” you know? And it wasn’t very challenging and it wasn’t a role that I felt like I could…I felt like anybody could f*ckin’ do it. I still wasn’t in a place where I could pick and choose what I wanted to do.

I was just more or less lucky to get a job at this point still. I talked to Tony and I said, “Look, I’d like to do the movie. It ain’t about the money or nothin’ like that. It’s the fact that this character, I don’t think it’s very well-written. I think it’s very one-dimensional.” I said, “You don’t need me to do it. Go hire joblo or whatever.” And Tony said, “No man, I want you to do it. What don’t you like about it?” I said, “Well, whoever wrote it looks like he never left the f*ckin’ tennis court or met guys like this.” And Tony heard what I had to say and he said, “Well, what do you want to do different?” I said, “Well, he wouldn’t do this,” or “It’d be more interesting if he didn’t have the answers for that.” I find that the whole bounty hunter thing, people go, “Did you do research?”

Bounty hunters these days, everything’s so sophisticated with computers and surveillance. It doesn’t have to be a one-man army kind of guy going in and kicking a door down, because these days you’re facing gangs, with all the different kind of sophistication and firepower that the guys have. You’ve got to be able to match that with intelligence…and it was more or less like, maybe (Ed) doesn’t have all the answers and maybe he’s a little vulnerable. Maybe he’s a little tired, a little out of his element at this point in his life. Maybe he’s uncertain. And I wanted to do more of that than make him like the stereotypical kind of guy who walks through bullets.

I don’t like making those kinds of movies, because it just doesn’t bite me in the ass the right way. So Tony brought in this Vietnamese kid, Vincent, that worked with him on the baseball movie (The Fan)…and over a two-month period, Tony, me and Vincent worked right up until the day of shooting on re-writing the character, re-writing the dialogue and what his relationship would be Domino, and especially what my relationship would be with Choco, with Edgar Ramirez. 

Had you met guys like this before getting involved with the film?

Yeah. You meet these guys everywhere – at tattoo parlors, bike shows, the fights, football games, wherever the f*ck – pumping iron down at Gold’s. That’s the thing about bounty hunters – it could be an out-of-work fireman or it could be a guy who’s a retired football player. A guy who’s an ex-cop. A guy who’s an ex-bad guy. A dentist. There was a little Jewish guy on the set who was the technical advisor. You wouldn’t think that this guy was a bounty hunter in a million years, but he’s very tactical with his mind. He’s very prepared with his surveillance, with his tactical team. There’s a guy who’s good with hand-to-hand combat, a guy who’s good with surveillance, a guy who’s good with tracking, a guy who’s good with computers, a guy who’s good with giving direction, a guy who’s good with talking people down. What I wasn’t knowledgeable about was how they work as a unit.

People say to me, “How do you like doing action movies?” I don’t like action movies. I don’t look at this as an action movie. I look at this as more of a dramatic film…I’m pretty positive that I wouldn’t have done this film if it wasn’t with Tony, because it would have turned into that very easily. 

In Domino, your character is sort of a father figure to Keira Knightley’s character. What was your relationship like on-set?

Sort of like a big brother, really. Keira’s like this great looking f*ckin’ beauty. Thank God I didn’t look at her that way, you know? I looked at her more as a friend, which was perfect for that. I saw BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM and the Pirate movie and I liked her beauty and grace and it was a breath of fresh air to see her step up to the plate and get outside of herself…and make it personal and see the rage in her and the fear. I think she’s tremendous…I don’t like actresses at all, but I really liked her. She turned me the corner on that.

It will probably be a long time before I work with somebody again that I feel that way about. But hey, really good actresses don’t grow on trees, especially in this town. And I don’t look at her as some fluff that’s on a magazine cover. She’s somebody with a lot of integrity that’s very well-read. I don’t see her as some sort of ambitious starlet. She’s a woman that really wants to be as fine as she can be, with self-respect and integrity. I admire that in people and ladies especially.

You received a lot of critical acclaim for your performance in Sin City. Did you view that as a sort of redemption?

When they offered me Sin City and I heard who the rest of the cast was, I was the first one to report to work. And I remember when I was reading through the material and going, “All right,” because there were a lot of movie stars who were working after me, and I said to Rodriguez, “Those motherf*ckers better be able to walk on water, because I’m gonna bring it.” I’m getting an opportunity after 14 years, you bet your ass I’m gonna bring it. It was fun.

Have you read any of the other Marv stories from the Sin City series, and are you looking ahead toward the sequel?

I’m looking ahead, because I think what they’re gonna do is they’re gonna take…because they want to stay very true to Frank Miller’s interpretation, but I think what they’re gonna do this time is take liberty – artistic liberty – for the sake of pacing and through-line…so I think if Rodriguez and Frank Miller can stand to be in the same room with each other, they’ll pound something out.

Are we at the beginning of a Mickey Rourke renaissance?

Well look, I’m not gonna get no more chances. This is it for me. So if I f*ck this up, I might as well jump off this f*ckin’ balcony. People say to me, “What’s the best movie you’ve made?” And I say, “Hey motherf*cker, I ain’t made it yet.” The last time when I almost had a career, I self-destructed before I even got going. I’m not gonna make that mistake this time. Those 14 years were long and painful and shameful and disgraceful and f*ckin’ lonely and miserable. Can you imagine talking to somebody and going, “Is anything going on today?” for 14 years? It’s like being in purgatory. It is purgatory. And I put myself there. I realized that I had some things broken inside of me that I had to fix and repair and change to move forward.

But I had to lose everything – and I mean everything – the last time around. I do not want to go back there. Every day is an effort for me, because you know, Marv lives inside of me. I gotta keep the bastard quiet, otherwise he wants to raise hell and go apeshit. I’m so fortunate to get another chance. I’m so grateful that I can even sit and talk to guys like you. Before I was so arrogant and angry and selfish about everything. I forgot where I came from. And I raced right back to that hell where I once was, where you try so hard to get out of it. And this time around…I don’t believe in luck. I worked very hard to change and I had to seek out people to give me some knowledge to do that. And it wasn’t easy.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].




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