Mickey Rourke, nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Wrestler (2008) and recipient of the Saturn Award for his supporting role in Sin City (2006), has had a rocky career. The actor now in his late fifties opens up to Newsweek about the trials he put himself through as a younger actor.
While filming The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), Rourke explains that he was pushing the limits of his body: “I made the mistake one time of staying out four nights in a row when I had to work… After four nights of partying, we had a scene at a bar. Eric [Roberts] had all the dialogue. It was right after lunch, and I was so tired I said to the director, Stuart Rosenberg, ‘I think my character should sit.’ I said that because I couldn’t stand. I put dark glasses on. Eric had to speak and suddenly I was sound asleep. I almost fell flat on my face, but nobody knew about it until this day.”
Rourke regrets staying out all night: “At the time, I was out chasing girls. There was a place called Heartbreak in New York that we used to go to. It was open until 4. I would pick up girls and drink and dance. That was the norm. I’d catch maybe two hours of sleep in the morning and nap at lunch. My career started in the ’80s and ended in the ’90s because of that nightlife. That was a mistake, burning the candle at both ends.”
Rourke felt (and partially still does today) that acting is too much about politics: “Even now, look at some of the young movie stars today from the United States—they are shit. The best guys are coming out of the United Kingdom and Australia.”
The idea that “mediocre” actors could still be stars made him feel free to go wild. At the time he felt there would be no consequences but now he affirms that there is a price to be paid. Rourke sums up the damage he did to his career when he says, “I took a fast dive off the mountain, and I wasn’t even at the top.” With therapy, perseverance, and time, Rourke feels that he’s finally accountable and taken back his career.