But Is It Acting?

In case you don’t know this great bit of Hollywood lore, it was said that, in order to prepare himself for a scene in Marathon Man in which his character was supposed to have been kept awake for days on end, Dustin Hoffman himself refused to go to sleep all night. When his co-star Laurence Olivier learned of this, he asked Hoffman, “Have you ever tried acting, dear boy?”

This is how I feel about Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Don’t get me wrong: I think he’s amazing in it, and should rightfully have garnered his many nominations. I do not, however, think he should be winning acting awards. Why? Let’s take a quick gander at character vs. reality, shall we?

Randy “The Ram” Robinson: Wrestler-cum-actor
Mickey “El Marielito” Rourke: Actor-cum-boxer
Randy: Hugely popular in the 80’s.
Rourke: Likewise.
Randy: Relegated to the trash bin of his profession as a relic.
Rourke: Relegated to the trash bin of his profession as a douche.
Randy: Estranged from family because he’s kind of an asshole.
Rourke: Arrested by the LAPD in 1994 and charged with spousal abuse.

OK, now, like I said, I think it was both brave and spectacular that, given these embarassing similarities, Rourke put aside both ego (and, reportedly, any money whatsoever) to do this role. After all, the only aging actress who would take on the role of Norma Desmond was one of the few who still had a thriving career (Mae West was, I believe, particularly acid in her refusal of the part). Still, when up against people who had to completely transform themselves to play a role (last I checked, although a liberal Bay Area resident, Sean Penn was neither gay nor cuddly-loveable), I just think this should be taken into account.

Although I am grateful for Rourke’s reappearance so I have an excuse to plead for the republication of his book of poetry.  Or was it just a dream that it existed?


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