He’s had his ups-and-downs, but as “Iron Man 2” star Mickey Rourke tells Ashley Hillard so long as he keeps his mouth shit, stops dreaming up imaginary battles in his head, and instead just concretes on the work, he’ll likely remain on top.
It was your idea to include the parrot in the film?
Yeah, I was looking for something for the character and I knew we wouldn’t have had time to use the dog so I decided we’d go with the bird.
How did you get involved in the film?
Jon [Favreau] showed me some designs and pictures of what the character [of Whiplash] would look like – I really liked them, and we pretty much stuck to those designs, just adding a few things here and there. Then I had some dialogue with [writer] Justin Theroux, who explained his ideas for the character and what he wanted to do, and that’s when it really became interesting. It all happened pretty quick – well, over a period of two months.
Is there anything you suggested Whiplash not be?
Well I don’t want him to be one-dimensional – I didn’t want to be your stereotypical bad guy. The Russian guy is always the bad guy, so I wanted to bring some humanity to this one and try and understand why he’s the way he is and why he’s doing these terrible things.
You spent some time at Butyrka prison in Russia as part of your research didn’t you?
Yeah, I saw a lot there at the prison – and I got a lot more. I talked to a guy at Russia, in my hotel, who had just gotten out two weeks earlier – we spent a couple of hours together, and in those two hours he took his clothes off and showed me all the crazy tattoos he had. He told me what the tattoos meant and talked about some of the businesses he was involved in over the years, some of the crimes he’d partaken in and what his ranking was in the prison. I found that interesting. You could look at a Russian prisoners tattoo’s and see his life story… see what his crimes are…
Do you like playing a bad guy? What was the appeal of playing a bad guy?
No, I didn’t call up Robert [Downey Jr] and say ‘I wanna play a bad guy’ [in Iron Man 2] it’s just that that was the only part that was option – but I liked it, I liked the drawings…. So it wasn’t like I went and chased the bad guy role. I also wasn’t working at the time, so it worked out.
Did you work out for the part?
Well, I had to take off a lot of weight after The Wrestler, so when I got this I had to wear a muscle suit – which weighed about forty pounds. But yeah, I had to work out for a couple of months – I was on the treadmill every day – if only so I could carry that heavy vest around.
How did you go with the Russian accent?
Well, I have a Russian girlfriend and she helped – but I’ll admit, it was very hard to do. It’s a much harder accent to do than English. We worked about three hours a day, five days a week, for about three months on it.
Did your girlfriend like your accent?
No, she makes fun of my accent – she hates my accent.
Did you have tattoos you had to cover up for the film?
Yeah, we covered mine up on my back and my arms and put the Russians ones on – and they were really great.
Thinking about getting any new Tats yourself?
Not any Russian ones. But I’m thinking about having a couple of new ones put on, and having a couple taken off.
How are you enjoying this second-phase of your career?
It’s good. I was out of work many years and I didn’t know if I would work again. Thank god I was given a second chance. I just had to make sure I shout my mouth and be creative – and that’s not easy. I just feel really blessed that I’ve been given a second chance, because there’s a lot of guys out there that are really fine actors that haven’t been given one. It’s better to be working.
You’re playing Genghis Khan in a movie?
Yeah, John Milius wrote the script and it’s a really intelligent movie. The movie is from his children’s point of view – his son’s point of view – and his enemy’s point of view. He’s in his late forties when the movie starts and he sees a girl that he met like twenty years-ago that was beautiful but is harder to look at now – [Milius] wrote it with humour.
Did you ever dislike the media or the movie industry?
Yeah, for the longest time I did, but I know now that it wasn’t really them – it was me. As my psychiatrist says to me, you’ve got to stop making up battles in your head that aren’t really happening. I had to learn to take my armour off and put the sword down. I surround myself these days with good people – which makes the difference. You’re only as good as the company you keep – if I’m with bad men then I’m gonna do bad business.
How was it working with Robert Downey?
It was a pleasure. I wasn’t going to do the film initially because of the old guy who had Marvel before – things between us weren’t working out – but Robert and Jon Favreau really pushed for me to do the movie. Those two really went to bat for me. Those two work great together – it’s a lot of fun on the set, it’s not like going to work – it’s not ‘Oh fuck, I gotta go to work today’.
Does it feel like a natural progression being in a big-budget superhero movie?
No, it kinda felt weird to me – because on the Wrestler, we didn’t even have one project chair to sit down. On Iron Man 2, if you wanted a chair they brought you ten chairs! I was like ‘fuck! There’s a chair there with my name on it!’
Is it big-budget movies all the way now?
No, I just did a smaller movie with Megan Fox and a first time director. It wasn’t like working on Iron Man, but creatively it was a lot of fun. She was great to work with… I mean, look at her! And it was also great to work with someone who may be beautiful and good-looking but also knows how to do her homework. I think people will have a different perspective of her [after this film].
Does it annoy you when actors don’t do their homework?
If they know their work, fine, if they’re don’t, fuck ’em. I worked with an actress recently who, despite having a reputation as a ‘good actress’, shits herself when that little red light comes on. She’s fooled everyone into thinking she’s a lot better than she is. Working with someone like that is a pain in the ass, ya know?
What’s the Megan Fox movie?
It’s called Passion Play. It’s about a trumpet player, who’s a heroin addict, who meets a girl with a heart of gold – she has real wings.
How was it working on a movie about a drug addict?
That was just a small subplot really, it was the trumpet that played a bigger part – and I was more terrified of it, than heroin.
If you could have a super power, what would you like to have?
I’ll get back to you one that one.
If ”Sin City 2” ever happens are you interested in being a part of it?
If it happens – I mean, that’s another movie that’s three hours of make-up, but was fun to do – and as long as Robert Rodriguez’s wife isn’t involved in it.
How’s your arm?
Not too good. I had it operated on in Germany. I tore the bicep, and waited six months to get the operation, and now they say the only way they could fix one-hundred percent is if they put in a dead person’s tendon. I’m disappointed in the operation.