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Mickey Rourke: Thanks, but no thanks


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With great success comes an inevitable downfall. No matter who, no matter when. It's that way in business, sports, and life.

 

The lucky ones get a second shot. One of the luckiest is character actor Mickey Rourke, who was once expected to enjoy a long, illustrious career in the movies. Rourke suffered hard times for the majority of the 1990s -- often as a result of his own erratic actions -- but a substantial part in 2005's Sin City put him back on track.

 

Rourke, 52, is now drawing Oscar buzz for his titular turn in The Wrestler. Ironic, no? Rourke, who once quit acting to become a professional boxer, has witnessed first-hand the pitfalls both in and out of the ring. His disfigured face? That's from boxing. But his broken heart is from a life of missed opportunities.

 

According to critics, The Wrestler ranks among the year's best performances. There have been a handful of those in Rourke's career, but not as many as there should have been. Rourke has made a career of turning down good roles. Here are 10 of the ones he didn't accept, with career-stalling results.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994). To think it could have been Rourke, and not Bruce Willis, as pugilist Butch Coolidge in director Quentin Tarantino's greatest triumph. Not only would Rourke, given his background as a boxer, have done great work, we would have loved to see him quip, "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead," with that smirky face of his. But the role belongs to Willis.

 

2. Beverly Hills Cop (1984). Some things in the world of entertainment are flat-out cruel: Drummer Pete Best being asked, pre-fame, to leave the Beatles; and Rourke passing on the once-in-a-lifetime role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Rourke missed out a free ride of epic proportions. The movie earned $230 million in theatres, won an Oscar nomination for best screenplay and made Eddie Murphy a box office star.

3. Rain Man (1988). The role of Charlie Babbitt, played to smug perfection in Rain Man by Tom Cruise, calls for an actor of supreme generosity. Said actor must be willing, for the greater good of the film, to come across as an arse. Cruise did that. Rourke was the king of acting like a donkey's behind later in life, but at this point in his career a role in Rain Man would have been disastrous.

 

4. Platoon (1986). Willem Dafoe went from nobody to Oscar-nominated somebody thanks to his part in Oliver Stone's war epic -- one that was originally offered to Rourke. Dafoe emanated a subtle intensity, an element of the portrayal Rourke likely would have taken over the top. Need evidence? The same year as Platoon, Rourke used fruits and vegetables to seduce Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks. Enough said.

 

5. The Untouchables (1987). Those who believe The Untouchables is a classic often credit the inspired casting of Kevin Costner, utterly believable as lawman Eliot Ness. Rourke was given the opportunity to play him, opposite Sean Connery and Robert De Niro, and with a script by David Mamet, but for some reason he declined. We'd love to know why.

 

6. 48 Hrs. (1982). Part of the reason 48 Hrs. worked so well was the buddy-cop formula, which requires an oil-and-water combination in the lead roles. Fast-talking Eddie Murphy and perpetual roughneck Nick Nolte -- in a bad-ass role Rourke passed on -- were all that and more.

7. Dead Poets Society (1989). Australian director Peter Weir makes meditative, meaningful movies -- the kind not often associated with Rourke. So it should come as no surprise that Weir, a six-time Oscar nominee, including one for this film, refused to make script changes at Rourke's request. In stepped Robin Williams, who promptly earned himself an Oscar nomination.

 

8. Death Proof (2007). If there's a type of moviemaking which best suits Rourke, it is the violent, sexy, sardonic movies director Quentin Tarantino likes to make. Rourke was originally cast in Death Proof as disfigured villain Stuntman Mike, later played by Kurt Russell. Rourke fans endured a slow death. He was born to play the role.

 

9. Highlander (1986). We defy anyone who isn't a fan of the Highlander series to name its star. See? You can't. Christopher Lambert, who starred in the series as Connor MacLeod, an immortal Scottish warrior, was serviceable yet far from great. Rourke might have been amazing. We'll never know.

 

10. Tombstone (1993). With all due respect to the late director George P. Cosmatos -- a one-time resident of Victoria -- time hasn't been kind to Tombstone. Despite the sloppiness, fine moments abound, including some moments of bad-guy brilliance from Michael Biehn, who seized the role of Johnny Ringo. That Rourke passed on the role, and subsequently the film, is not one of life's tragedies. But it would have been nice to see.

Source: http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=1081924

 

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Guest AdminGuyX

Why are the Canadians picking on Mickey Rourke? Jeez.

 

Time hasn't been kind to Tombstone? This a Canadian opinion?

 

I don't think I'd ever fault Rourke for passing on any of these roles. Eddie Murphy is why Beverly Hills Cop was successful. Now had Rourke, or Stallone played that role I think the film would have struggled for it.

 

I think the Rourke just knows what works for him, and he makes the films he wants to make. I doubt seriously that he is interested in being a franchise actor, or a big man on studio campus. Just my feelings.

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