Mickey Rourke biography
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).
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.
Notable Film Roles
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.
The sexually charged film caused controversy, but earned Rourke high critical praise. The role catapulted him to success, and helped him score his next film, Barfly (1987).
Professional and Personal Difficulties
It wasn't long before Rourke succumbed to a hedonistic lifestyle, which led to difficult behavior on the set. Director Alan Parker, who worked with the actor in 1987's Angel Heart was quoted as saying, "working with Mickey is a nightmare. He is very dangerous on set because you never know what he is going to do."
Adding fuel to the fire, Rourke was branded as a loudmouth for bragging to reporters about his friendships with alleged mobsters. His increasing ego also led him into a false sense of importance, having developed a reputation for breezing through film roles without much care or appreciation of the other crew and cast involved.
Also having experienced difficulties in his private life, Rourke's first marriage to Debra Feuer ended in divorce in 1989. In 1990, Rourke met actress Carrie Otis on the set of the steamy thriller, Wild Orchid. The couple married two years later, but his second union to actress Carrie Otis ended a few years later after an alleged assault landed Rourke in jail. With his reputation damaged, Rourke made the decision to stop acting and return to the boxing ring. "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," Rourke said.
The actor failed to achieve national success in his return to boxing, and suffered a number of injuries including a broken nose, toe and ribs. In 1995, realizing that his boxing shelf-life had expired, he returned to acting with a new-found determination to succeed.
The early '90s comeback trail saw Rourke star in minor hits such as John Grisham's The Rainmaker. His next film, The Man of Fire (2003), saw Rourke playing a supporting role across from legend Denzel Washington. Rourke's performance established him as a legitimate actor once again. In 2005, he landed the lead in the international blockbuster, Sin City, directed by Robert Rodriguez. His role as a gritty, urban detective catapulted Rourke to the A-list of acting talent, and earned him a new generation of fans. He reprised his role in the 2014 sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
In 2008, Rourke met more critical acclaim with his role as Randy "The Ram" Robinson in the film, The Wrestler. Rourke won a Golden Globe for his performance, and was nominated—along with his co-star, Marisa Tomei—for an Academy Award. It has been a long, slow climb back from his '80s career dive, but Rourke managed to make a comeback as a prominent actor, having appeared in several action and thriller films since his return to the silver screen, including Iron Man 2 (2010) and Immortals (2011). He was also awarded a Hollywood star in 2011.