An Open Letter to Mickey Rourke
Congrats on your stellar performance in the film The Wrestler – a film about a professional wrestler in decline as well as the world around him. Hey you didn't win the Oscar but what can you say? It was the year of Milk and Sean Penn. And while you didn't win the big prize you won plenty of other awards, critical praise, and much deserved appreciation for your acting talents. It's about damn time! However, during this period of extreme adulation, I'm feeling a bit of a let down. And this is coming from someone who didn't just jump on the Mickey Rourke bandwagon. Oh no brother, I've been there since 1983's The Pope of Greenwich Village. Do you remember that one? You and a kid named Eric Roberts. What happened to that guy anyway? His face should be on a milk carton. And then you went on to such gems as The Year of the Dragon, Angel Heart with Robert De Niro, Barfly (portraying Henry Chinaski, the literary alter ego of writer Charles Bukowski), one of my favorite all time films – A Prayer for the Dying, Homeboy for which you wrote the screenplay, Johnny Handsome, and Desperate Hours. After that, it all went to hell according to the well crafted story.
Now with all of the recent hoopla, it seems you're everywhere. You were on Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Charlie Rose, Time, British talk shows…and Barbara Walters. You were not only interviewed by Barbara, she almost reduced you to tears. Tears as in crying. CRYING!? Mickey 'effing' Rourke don't shed any tears. Say it ain't so Mickey. What's next? An interview with Regis and Kelli Lee? (or whatever the hell her name is) It won't be long before you're on Dancing With The Cadavers with Betty White. I like the old Mickey better. Someone who was aloof and not so over exposed. Someone who wasn't mindful of "handlers" and proper decorum. Someone who was quirky and eccentric. Someone…now you're everyone, indistinguishable from the astonishing number of actors who have been "rehabilitated" by the Hollywood PR machine. I'm sure Mel Gibson is waiting in the wings.
I realize what others have said about you as well as what you have said yourself –" Mickey Rourke is poison", " … too many demons", "no director will work with him", "persona non grata on a movie set", et cetera, et cetera. You have relayed in the spate of interviews you've conducted that you've been out of the business for a number of years due to the personal turmoil you were experiencing. The Wrestler, according to you simply mirrors what was happening in your personal life. It's a comeback story for sure. And while certain aspects of what you were saying can't be denied, other aspects sound a little contrived to be honest with you. After all wasn't the film Sin City in which you portrayed the psychopathic Marv supposed to be your big "comeback"? That was five years ago. Even back in the early 90's when you supposedly "left" acting for boxing, you were still pounding out a film a year. And I know what you have said about those roles. You did it just for a paycheck, it wasn't really acting, and a week or two on a movie set is not really work. But I hate it when the great actors disparage their work. Brando was perhaps the most famous disparager. I realize Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man has been much castigated and maligned but I still managed to watch it twice. Whatever happened to that Don Johnson guy anyway? Maybe his face should be on a milk carton. It would be quite sad if one were to actually dismiss your career for the last 20 years. If one did, one would really miss out on some good if not great performances. I know they weren't "starring" roles but perhaps the narcissistic Norma Desmond got it right in Sunset Boulevard when she said "No one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star". There were roles in White Sands, The Rainmaker, The Pledge, Masked and Anonymous, and Spun. You even managed to play a transvestite in Animal Factory and somehow you pulled it off! And now what do we have to look forward to in the coming months? You signed on to play the villain in the sequel to Iron Man. Ho hum.
Maybe you have mellowed over the years. That could explain everything. Maybe I have mellowed too. I recently suggested that people get together in their neighborhoods and have potluck suppers, join hands and sing Kumbaya. But what I have never suggested is that people change their basic personalities. And I fear that is what has happened to you. There are still traces of the old Mickey. One only has to look at your recent acceptance speech at the 2009 Film Independent's Awards. Your remarks were humorous, irreverent, spontaneous, and politically incorrect. Perhaps you offended someone, perhaps you hurt someone's feelings, but more importantly perhaps you remembered the importance of being Mickey.