The Wrestler a film by Darren Aronofsky starring Mickey Rourke Part 1

Monday, January 05, 2009 Craig Grobler 2 Comments

Something's burning white hot in freezing London tonight and it's Mickey Rourke's seethingly intense performance. Part 1

Mon 5 December, early evening Leicester Square, London. The producers opted for a low key UK premiere for The Wrestler with a celebrity audience as well as Mickey Rourke in attendance. Meanwhile just around the corner at the Curzon Soho an intimate audience of around 250 people gathered at the Curzon Soho to view a special preview of The Wrestler and participate in a Q&A session with the film's leading man Mickey Rourke.

The Players
Darren Aronofsky 39 year old film director. Lauded as the second coming with his debut feature film Pi (1998), critical acclaim continued with the bleak Requiem For A Dream. In 2006 finally opinions divided with The Fountain. The 2006 Hugh Jackman starring mind melting /time travelling /sci fi feature also starred Aranofsky's wife Rachel Weiszs and was seen as self indulgent by many.

Aronofsky has followed up the high concept Fountain with a pared down, back to basics, handy-cam shot story of a man past his prime. So far the The Wrestler has won critical acclaim, been nominated for countless awards, garnered a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and there has been much talk of Mickey Rourke deserving an Oscar for his performance.

Aronofsky's films are studies into the human condition - Pi (Paranoia & technophobia), Requiem for a Dream (old age, drug dependency & lust), The Fountain (Loss of a loved one). He tends to explore the issues that are part of life but ignored by any filmmaker that wants a paying audience to view their films. With The Wrestler Aronofsky explores the world of an ageing professional athlete; his post prime career, his relationships and socio environment. Think more Requiem For A Dream than The Fountain.

To carry both the gruelling physical and mental weight of the leading role, Aronofsky called on the man whose own career could have easily been the blueprint for The Wrestler had he taken a different path. Allthough Aranofsky's choice, Rourke's casting was not a sure thing as Nicholas Cage almost sealed the deal at one stage.

Phillip Andre Rourke Jr. aka Mickey Rourke aka. Sir Eddie Cook aka 'Boogie', Marv, Harry Angel, Harley Davidson, The Pope or Motorcycle Boy started off as a boxer before embarking on a promising film career.
Rourke studied method acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute under Sandra Seacat. In 29 years he has built an impressive resume with some standout performances. He has worked with some greats including Spielburg, Michael Cimino, William Hurt, Levinson, Ford Coppola, Alan Parker, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Nicolas Roeg, Faye Dunaway, Barbet Schroeder, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Walken, Steven Sean Penn and Jack Nicholson.

Somewhere in the early 90s Rourke's hell-raising lifestyle overshadowed his talent and he was blacklisted by Hollywood. Rourke started producing films from material he had written but ultimately he was forced him to take some questionable roles as he says "to pay for his lifestyle". "The 90s were bad!"

Even in the most dire of productions Rourke's performance does not falter, sometimes misguided and out of place - he has remained his own man and true to ensuring his performances are solid. Somwhere in the early 2000s Rourke rebooted his career he started taking on small roles in rated films a handful of loyal friends keeping involved in bigger projects such as Stallone's Get Carter, Robert Rodriguez's Once upon a time in Mexico & Sin City and Tony Scott's Domino & Man on Fire.

The Wrestler has many similarities to Rourke's own life but more to his self penned 1988 offering Homeboy. In this little known classic Rourke plays a ageing past his prime boxer that never quite lived up to his promise.

Even one of Rourke's favourite settings a Fun Fair features in one of The Wrestler's most bittersweet scenes. Fun Fairs at Coney Island were used in Angel Heart, 9 1/2 Weeks and Bullet - a film that Rourke wrote and produced. The Wrestler and Homeboy had scenes shot at Asbury Park.

Aronofsky's low fidelity visuals, sometimes barren soundtrack combined with quality performances from the cast that includes Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood and Rourke's gritty performance compliment the stark subject matter to create a crescendo of angst that will have you cringing, smiling and possibly bringing some strong emotions to the fore. Rourke's performance will possibly overshadow the rest of the cast, but mention should be made of the braveness of Oscar winner Marisa Tomei's performance and role.

As favours to Mickey Rourke both Guns n Roses and Bruce Springsteen contributed to the films soundtrack at minimal cost. Their music sets the tone for scenes in which they bleed into.

The Wrestler opens in the UK on January 16th.


  1. There is no scene shot at Coney Island in The Wrestler. You may be mistaking the scene with his daughter, which was shot at Asbury Park in New Jersey at the old Casino Building, with Coney. The wrestler was shot in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

  2. Hi Anonymous, if that's your real name :)

    Thanks for your contribution. Despite finding out that Darren Aronofsky grew up near Coney Island and it was used as a key location in Requiem For A Dream. You are correct! The scenes I was referring to - were in fact shot at Asbury Park. I have subsequently found out that Homeboy was shot there as well.