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Mickey Rourke is an American actor who had great success and became a sex symbol in the 1980s. He left acting to box but has recently returned to the screen.
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Mickey Rourke was born on September 16, 1952, in Schenectady, New York. His appearance in Body Heat won him notice and he became a sex symbol after Nine 1/2 Weeks. Rourke gained a reputation of being difficult to work with and his career waned, leading to his start as a professional boxer. After numerous injuries in the ring, Rourke retired from the sport and went back to acting, having earned acclaim for his role in The Wrestler (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010).
"I had to go back to boxing because I was self-destructing. I had no respect for myself being an actor. So I went back to a profession which really humbled me."
Actor and wrestler Mickey Rourke was born Philip Andre Rourke, Jr. on September 16, 1952, in Schenectady, New York, to Ann and Philip Andre, Sr. During his teenage years, the family relocated to Miami, Florida. At Miami Beach Senior High School, Rourke spent a lot of time playing sports, especially baseball. Although Rourke rarely speaks of his family life growing up, the actor alluded to a history of physical abuse. He had five step-brothers, none of whom he speaks with now.
"I was nuts and angry and ashamed...and that shame turned into anger," Rourke says of his early life. "I believe it came from when I was a young boy, just a little kid, and I felt a lot of inferiority at home. I was pushed around and I went out into the street believing that kicking ass was what it was all about." Rourke's interest in athletics, and his need to defend himself physically, led him to pursue an amateur boxing career.
In 1969, Rourke faced former boxing champion Luis Rodriquez in the ring, but received a concussion during the bout. The aspiring boxer faced a similar incident a few years later. Consequently Rourke was told by doctors to take a year off to rest. Instead, Rourke chose to throw in the gloves altogether, and officially retire from the ring.
Rourke caught the acting bug in the late '70s, and headed back to New York to study under the actress Sandra Seacat. In 1979, he landed his first significant role in Steven Spielberg's film, 1941. But it wasn't until his role as an arsonist in the film Body Heart (1981) that Rourke was able to attract critical attention. Despite his brief presence on-screen, the actor earned rave reviews.
Throughout the 1980s, Rourke starred in a number of small budget films. His most notable role came in 1982 with the cult hit Diner, directed by Barry Levinson. Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish (1983) saw Rourke take a role as Matt Dillon's elder brother. He was subsequently praised for the energy he portrayed in the character, standing out from other big names in the film, including Dennis Hopper and Nicholas Cage.
In 1984, The Pope of Greenwich Village earned Rourke even greater critical acclaim despite the film panning at the box office. Praised by the likes of Johnny Depp as "perfect cinema," Rourke named it as his favorite film of all he's made. Both he and and actress Daryl Hannah note it as highlights of their careers.
Rourke earned sex-symbol status in his next role for the film, Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) with Kim Basinger.
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