In light of what is being hailed as his “Don’t-call-it-a-comeback” comeback in The Wrestler, let’s discuss some of his roles in the past (without mentioning The Wrestler).
I had a Rourke double feature last night (A Prayer for the Dying, 9 1/2 Weeks). He’s had some diverse roles, ranging from Rumble Fish to Spun.
What roles did you love? Hate? What do you think of him as an actor?
Other than Sin City & The Wrestler the only other role I saw him in was Angle Heart, where he did a pretty damn good job.
My only question is what the hell happened to him. It seems like he was an A-lister, then self destructed somewhere in the late 80s early 90s.
This is a good article on him.
My favorites? Diner, Body Heat and Barfly.
I like him as an actor, but I thought he was badly miscast in 9 1/2 Weeks. This is entirely subjective, of course, as a the movie was a huge hit among desperate housewives. Personally, I never saw how a woman as classy and beautiful and likeable as Kim Basinger could make herself the willing love slave of such a sleazebag. I know, happens all the time. But I just never really bought it. I kept wanting her to kick him in the nuts, or give an old-fashioned Constance Towers purse-beating, or smash a beer bottle and hold the broken neck to his face and ask him how he’d like a Bud Lite tonsilectomy. Sorry, I’m projecting…
I first remember his “comeback” in The Rainmaker. He’s popped up now and then before and after, but that was my first sighting where he really looked different from being the Motorcycle Boy or Kim Basinger’s beau.
Rodney, 91/2 Weeks is a crappy film, totally unsexy, clichéd, a third-rate advertisement. And I totally agree with you on MR in that.
But he’s played in better films and it is clear he’s a very talented actor (Rumble fish, Year of the Dragon, Barfly, Sin City, etc.)
Really great potential and charisma.
He belongs to a category of unintellectual popular actors who are actually first-rate when used in intelligent films. Others include Bruce Willis and Alain Delon.
Didn’t all the critics say a few years back that “Sin City” was his big comeback? Or am I imagining this?
Okay, he’s had several “comebacks”, but the focus of this topic is him as an actor, not which comeback was his truest according to the critics or anything else non-film related.
Sin City wasn’t a leading role, by the way; The Wrestler is.
Ever seen an all-but-forgotten late 1980s noir job called “Johnny Handsome”? Rourke had the lead and he was great. Lars Henricksen and Ellen Barkin filled out the rest of the rogues gallery.
he’s always been pretty interesting to watch, but many of his films have been irredeemable shit.
Year of the Dragon, Prayer for the Dying… unquestionably crap.
I was not a fan of Diner, or in later years, Sin City (what a fuckin turkey!)
I thought he did a good turn as Bukowski/Chinaski in Barfly. certainly topped Matt Dillon’s attempt in Factotum.
I think he just needs better roles in better films. I’m interested in the Wrestler, but skeptical since it sounds like such Hollywood garbage… used-up fighter? hooker with a heart of gold? who keeps writing the same shit over and over?
i always liked him in “the pope of greenwich village”. andre summed it up pretty well. compelling guy, interesting to watch. i definitely place him ahead of willis and delon. there’s a charisma there, sure, but there is a fair amount of instinct and talent as well. of all the contemporary actors i “miss”, he tops the list.
(A parenthesis to André in defense of Willis and Delon:)
I thought Willis was not only the only watchable thing in “Pulp Fiction”, but really interesting and moving, in a way the others simply weren’t.
As for Delon, he is inspired in everything I’ve seen him in (but like Belmondo, tends to be underestimated due to the countless mediocre French cop flicks he’s been associated with there over the decades).
(-Whether as individuals they are (or are not) assholes is an entirely different matter.)
I didn’t much care for Sin City, but I thought he was excellent in it, I think my other favorites are “Year of the Dragon”, “Barfly” and the “Pope of Greenwich village”. I think he has a great personality and his performances show it quite well. Its nice to see him working.
After seeing The Wrestler I went out and bought a few early Rourke films. I’ve only watched Diner so far (which I enjoyed) and the thing that surprised me the most was just how softly spoken he was back in the day. Having only seen Sin City and The Wrestler I was expecting a deep voice.
Aside from The Wrestler being a brilliant film, I’m grateful that it has opened my eyes to such a great actor!
Loved him in BARFLY and DINER, though he was OK in RUMBLE FISH, was pleasantly surprised by him in SIN CITY, and think most of his other work is pretty much crap. Haven’t seen THE WRESTLER yet, so take this as you will.
Everyone’s been nailing the main ones. He’s talented as hell.
Barfly, Angel Heart, Year of the Dragon, Pope of Greenwich Village, and so on. Just really great performances.
He was great in Sin City, got a lot of recognition for that. He also got a ton of recognition and his “comeback” happened with Once Upon a Time in Mexico. So maybe he’s had 3-4 comebacks. Still love him, even if he looks AWFUL these days.
I do not believe Mickey Rourke is talented, also I am not that kicked up to watch a Darren Afronovsky’s “Wrestler”, never was a big fan of his movies.
He’s a flawed rough diamond. Always managed to give an interesting performance, even if the film was a bit crap. “Angel Heart”- a silly potbolier of a movie, but he did well in it; “Rumblefish” as Rusty James’ brother- excellent. He’s a difficult actor to pin down to a particular type, and he always managed to be quite sleazy. Not to hot on his more recent films, but back in the 1980s, when he was most in vogue, he gave strong performances in a diverse range of films.
Not nearly as talented as Robert Downey J.R, although he has had similar luck in terms of bouncing back and being able to reinvent himself, even if, nowadays, he’s looking fairly leathery and weather-beaten from all the drugs and booze he’s consumed over the years.
But if you grew up in the 1980s, more often than not, he was on the screen year in, year out, in some form or another. I don’t think he ever gave one great performance. Somewhere along the line he was always a flawed talent, but always watchable, even if sometimes he just kind of slicked back his hair, appeared gruff and ellusive and sat back down again. Charismatic, yes, but in a laconic, devil-may-care way.
I don’t get the whole mystic behind him. If i look back at his films, Johnny Handsome, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Exit in Red i think boy he got some lucky roles in good films. Like Domino, Angel Heart and a few others. But he is no better an actor than others. The 80 are such a lousy time for films. Bad actress, bad films this made it easy to pick up on Micky. What was the other choise Richard Gere?
His performance in Diner is fantastic. He was cast perfectly in that film, and I think that was his truly great performance. Another example of perfect casting, his role in Sin City, allowed him to give an excellent performance. As Tarantino put it when that film was being shot “Mickey was born to play this part”. Awesome movie. I am really looking forward to The Wrestler!!!
His very small role in Body Heat is among my favorites—not much screen time, but he makes William Hurt disappear as an actor. The Pope of Greenwich Village is probably my fav of his starring roles. I also thought he was really good in Diner, Rumble Fish, Angel Heart, Homeboy, Johnny Handsome, The Rainmaker, The Pledge, Sin City, and, yes, The Wrestler.
Roarke has a Brando quality about him. He is one of America’s finest actors – always was, always will be – regardless of how “ugly” or “strange” everyone tends to think he is. His best roles, imo, were Rumble Fish, Year of the Dragon and Diner. Haven’t seen The Wrestler yet. Get back to you on that.
don’t know alot of his work, but of the few films i can think of that i’ve seen him in (Rumble Fish was good, he was the only part of Sin City i enjoyed, and i don’t remember much of Get Carter—not really a memorable movie), i’ve enjoyed watching him work. i do wanna see the Wrestler, less for the story or the director, but more just so i can see if he’s really as good as everyone says.
i’m actually suprised i haven’t seen Pope of Greenwich Village or Diner yet. i’m slacking…
“i think boy he got some lucky roles in good films”
Robert, you should see the list of films Rourke passed on, he could have made an awful lot of money:
Jack Cates (Nick Nolte’s character) in 48 Hours
Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis’s character) in Pulp Fiction
Sgt. Grodin (Willam Dafoe’s character) in Platoon
Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise’s character) in Rain Man
Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun
Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) in The Untouchables
Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn’s character) in Tombstone
He was also cast in In the Cut, but Nicole Kidman—who later dropped out of the film herself—flat out refused to work with him.
Marq, I highly recommend The Pope of Greenwich Village.
“Sin City” and “Domino” for me. Yes, I love “Domino”, do somethin.
I once heard that the French love Mickey Rourke. Why is that?
“I once heard that the French love Mickey Rourke. Why is that?”
Heh. I prefer Ringo. Thanks for answering.
Yeah you’re absolutely right about the French ting.