Mickey Rourke's redemption has been the stuff Hollywood makes movies about. Only an independent filmmaker made it and it starred Rourke himself. Rourke's portrayal of washed-up wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson earned him a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Award, an Academy Award nomination, and has put him back on the A-list map with more roles in future big-budget releases. It's a far cry from the cautionary tale he had become.
A student of the Actor's Studio, Rourke was loved by critics for his rugged and raw portrayals when he burst onto the scene in 1981. Other actors, such as Sean Penn, would visit his sets just to watch him work. But then the personal demons took over. Drug abuse, bizarre career choices, and his decision to become a professional boxer derailed him. One moment he's being called the best actor since Marlon Brando, the next he's getting his cheekbone and nose obliterated in boxing rings and being arrested in South Beach for driving a scooter while under the influence.
Mirroring Rourke more than any character he will ever play is The Wrestler's Randy the Ram, a once bright star who fades into obscurity while abusing drugs and suffering irreparable harm to his body. It was the right role at the right time. It's almost as if Rourke's life had been one long Method-acting prep for that role. And now, thanks to that film, Mickey Rourke is back.