Mickey Rourke continues to remain busy in feature films following a break of 14 years in which he wasn't offered roles. Sin City and The Wrestler helped revive his career, and he's been keeping busy in recent years in a variety of films spread over a wide assortment of genres. Some of his films, as Rourke honestly admits, didn't live up to expectations but he's happy to be working again as an actor.
During the LA press day for Relativity Media's Immortals, a 3D action epic involving peasants, a mad King (played by Rourke), and Greek Gods, Rourke talked about watching Immortals for the first time. "It looks great. I didn’t wear the [3D] glasses. I’m just not in a mood to put them on. They told me there’s a difference. I thought Tarsem [Singh, the director] did a hell of a job," said Rourke. "It’s a wild looking two hours of something you can escape to and go, ‘Wow. That’s different.’"
On life on the Immortals set:
Mickey Rourke: "It was, well, the days would start out bad because the lady, Eiko [Ishioka], she spent three years doing the wardrobe and it was heavy. It took me an hour to put my pants on. It was like this layer and another layer. Then a layer up here. Then a belt over here. Then another layer and a gauntlet over here. It was like, ‘Now I have to stand?!’ And the shoes were like 300 pounds a piece. It was nice once I got dressed and put all [that on]. Then it was another two hours in the makeup chair."
"The main reason I took the movie was to work with Tarsem. I saw his commercial reel and I saw the interesting Nike reel he did where he had the faces on all the athletes - the masks. He brought some drawings of the different characters. I thought this guy is very prepared, you know? And I like working with guys who do a very long pre-production because they know exactly what they want. And because he comes out of commercials, he has such a fabulous look, the way he lights everything. He can take this material to another level. So I don’t necessarily know if I would have done this movie if it wasn’t Tarsem involved."
What does he prefer: playing the tough guy or having the audience see him as a sensitive guy?
Mickey Rourke: "No, I would have rather been one of the guys dressed in gold. Really! I saw those outfits and I went, ‘F*ck! That’s the real me.’ I fought very hard in the last couple of years playing bad guys. I find them much more interesting than the good guy. You don’t get paid as good. The bad guy just doesn’t always have to be one dimensional, you know? It’s to try to find layers and reasons to justify why he is what he is. You find moments. I know gangsters from the old days that I would sit down with. I’d bring a girlfriend to the table and I’d go, ‘That’s so and so,’ and he’d be the nicest guy. She’d go, ‘Oh, I can’t believe people talk about him like that. Did he really kill 12 people?’ And I’d go, ‘Yeah.’"
"So I try to find the moments where he’s not that clichéd evil, bad guy - and it’s a big fight. I had it on Iron Man 2 and they won. Going to work for Marvel and them breaking Favreau’s balls and wanting just a one dimensional villain. So the performance and all I tried to bring to him ends up on the f**king floor. That could cause you not to care as much. Not to want to put that effort in when you try to make it an intelligent bad guy or a bad guy who justifies what his reasons are. So I fight for that all the time. This character was hard because he was written as pure evil. It was okay. I can only try to justify the King’s actions so far. I mean, I know when he’s chopping the guy’s balls off, it doesn’t look too good."
On trying to find a reason for his character's behavior:
Mickey Rourke: "I never look at the guy as that pure evil. I always try to find there’s a reason. Maybe it’s Theseus’ problem, you know, why I behave [that way]. Absolutely. It’s like territory. It’s like, 'This is my territory. I got a reason to do whatever I want in my territory,' or you could say in my house. He considered everything his house."
"Once again, working with Tarsem and Henry. Henry’s very young, enthusiastic. He was running around doing push ups and cartwheels. I remember when I used to get that excited. Maybe he’d better work on his lines. No. But it’s nice to work with someone who’s beginning their career, seeing them so gung-ho. Tarsem was excited. I worked a total of eight days maybe on the movie."
On physically preparing for the role of King Hyperion:
Mickey Rourke: "I had just come out of surgery. I had torn my bicep and I just had bicep surgery. I lost my whole tendon. The operation didn’t work, so I was actually worried about just being able to tie my shoes. It’s one of the reasons I wore a gauntlet up here (motioning to the top of his right arm). I had a big scar."
"I’m going to have to have a cadaver tendon put in to fix it. I was arm-wrestling some rugby players at four in the morning. We had been drinking at a pub in London and I lost, but we became good friends. They gave me a magazine about their club. They play with a team called the Huddersfield Bears and we became friends. I was reading the magazine and there was an article about Gareth Thomas, the rugby player who announced that he’s gay. I came back home and was watching Pardon the Interruption and they were talking about Gareth. They were saying how brave he was for coming out and announcing it. I got on a plane and I met Gareth and I asked him, ‘I’m wanna make your life story.’ I think I beat the studio out there by about four days, and he gave me the rights. We’re going to do this movie now. He announced his retirement three days ago and hopefully in March...I’ve been writing the script for the past year. Hopefully, we’ll do it in March."
On his fight scenes:
Mickey Rourke: "Well, the sword was made out of f**king rubber. They have the real sword there and they have the rubber. So with my arm like this, I’d say, ‘Gimme the…’ I think I did my stuff with my left arm, maybe, because I had just gotten the scar from here to here because the tendon didn’t [work], the whole tendon in the bicep left. There’s no muscle here; it looks like a 12 year old. So now they have to put somebody’s dead tendon in here."
On his career over the last couple of years:
Mickey Rourke: "I think probably, to be honest with you, when I was out of work 13, 14 years...whatever the hell it was...I remember riding [in] Cannes with Rodriguez for Sin City. And I was sitting in the car and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m getting a chance again.’ Because all the years go by and it’s 13 years or that many years and you’re living in a room. After like seven years go by I think, ‘Yeah, I really f**ked up,’ and then 10 years go by and it’s like, 'They’re not gonna let me back in the door again.' Especially I was out here and this is the worst place to be when they grind you into the ground, they can’t wait to do it. And I helped them do it."
"I really thought I could turn it around in a year or two and they’d let me back in, but it just didn’t happen and so I thought, 'It’s too shameful and degrading to feel like this.' I was really close to going back to Miami and doing I don’t know what but I wasn’t going to sit around and be yesterday’s news. That’s just too hard. I remember buying a pack of cigarettes. I was in the line and it was like two in the morning. Some a**shole, some fat guy goes, ‘Hey, didn’t you used to be…?’ (Laughing) Oh, god. And he mentioned the wrong name! I remember walking two blocks going, ‘Oh f*ck!'"
"I’m very grateful that period is over. And I’m very capable of having that happen again, so I’ve got to watch myself on a daily basis, you know?"
"I don’t look at like that word 'closure'. I don’t believe there is any. Man, I could f*ck up tomorrow easily, in the next 10 minutes. I could be right back where I was so it’s like a guy who gets out of jail. You’ve got to behave. I had to change. There’s a big part of myself that’s never gonna change...certain things. But I did have to change, realize that I had to be accountable. Before there were no rules with me and I wasn’t accountable. I didn’t care what the consequences are, and now I do."
As for another movie he's got coming out - 13:
Mickey Rourke: "It’s a piece of crap. If you don’t believe me, call up Jason [Statham] and Ray [Winstone]."
On being honest about his films:
Mickey Rourke: "I mean, I can’t just say everything is great. 'It’s fantastic and go and see it.' I’m just not built that way."
Looking back on his career, what project is he most proud of?
Mickey Rourke: "The most fun I ever had on a movie – I look at whenever I had the most fun on a movie – was The Pope of Greenwich Village. It was the most fun I had working with Stuart Rosenberg - the director - and Eric Roberts. That was just fun. We were in New York City. It was just fun to go to work every day."
On possibly returning as Marv in Sin City 2:
Mickey Rourke: "Depends. Depends how bad they want me. Ya’ feel me?"
Did he like the character of Marv:
Mickey Rourke: "Yeah, I did. But I don’t like...I’m claustrophobic, so the three hours of make up because you have to keep it on for 13, 14 hours a day. It’s latex and glue and that stuff that gets my eyes all red. I forget what it’s called. It’s a nightmare. And the chair, you’ve got the teeth in. I remember I picked up some chick at a bar in Texas and I invited her to the set to have lunch at the lunch break. I couldn’t take the sh*t off. F**k it. I never saw her again."