Mickey: Contemplative, Poetic and ... ThreateningMickey Rourke burst onto the film scene in Peter Levin's powerful 1980 based on-a-true-story televison movie, "Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case," in which he played John Rideout to Linda Hamilton's Greta.
He had already played small roles in two high-profile films - Steven Spielberg's "1941" (1979) and Vernon Zimmerman's black comedy, "Fade to Black" (1980) - but in another year or so, he'd take command of the big screen with a series of commanding performances in a string of estimable films that made him, yes, the latest "next James Dean."
For approximately a dacade, he reigned in interesting titles for the most interesting filmmakers - as Lawrence Kasdan's "Body Heat" (1981), Barry Levinson's "Diner" (1982), Nicolas Roeg's "Eureka" (1983), Francis Ford Coppola's "Rumble Fish" (1983), Stuart Rosenberg's "The Pope of Greenwich Village" (1984), Michael Cimino's "Year of the Dragon" (1985), Adrien Lyne’s “9½ Weeks” (1986), Alan Parker's "Angel Heart" (1987), Barbet Schroeder's "Barfly" (1987), Mike Hodges' "A Prayer for the Dying" (1987), Liliana Cavani's "Francesco" (1989), Walter Hill's "Johnny Handsome" (1989) and Roger Donaldson's "White Sands" (1992).
In those films, he brilliantly juxtaposed a certain delicacy with toughness, delivering his dialogue in an intimidating whisper. He was both seductive and threatening. And while women were attracted to other actors for their distinctly masculine features, they were drawn to Mickey's trademark lips, always pursed and usually with a cigarette ensconced between them.
Much about Mickey Rourke has changed - physically - but that soft whisper and those beestung lips remain ever intact. Welcome back.