«Mickey Rourke recalls being blacklisted in Hollywood, how a priest ‘saved’ him»
‘You’ve gotta be tough’ - Says actor Mickey Rourke who is starring in the faith-based drama 'Man of God'. By Stephanie Nolasco
Mickey Rourke didn’t flinch when he was offered the chance to appear in a faith-based film.
The veteran actor and former boxer is featured in "Man of God," which centers on St. Nektarios of Aegina, a Greek Orthodox saint known as a priest of the common people during the 19th century. Despite being exiled from Egypt, he cared for the poor, taught peasant girls to read and write, as well as established a convent on a barren island that still stands as a beacon to pilgrims, Variety reported.
The film, directed and written by Yelena Popovic, stars Aris Servetalis as Nektarios. Rourke portrays a paralyzed man.
..."It’s nice to find a filmmaker who wants to take on a chance and make a movie like this one. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to have an audience. But I think with everything going on in the world, people are going to be curious about what this story is about. And it has a lot of integrity"
The star, who was previously nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for "The Wrestler," told Fox News Digital that his connection to Catholicism compelled him to take on the role.
"You know, they’re making all these Marvel movies that just make me sick to my stomach," the 69-year-old explained. "It’s nice to find a filmmaker who wants to take on a chance and make a movie like this one. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to have an audience. But I think with everything going on in the world, people are going to be curious about what this story is about. And it has a lot of integrity."
Rourke said reconnecting with his faith hits close to home.
Mickey Rourke visits the Acropolis on Sept. 10, 2020, in Athens, Greece. (Papadakis Press/MEGA/GC Images)
"My life would’ve taken a different path if my grandmother wasn’t so religious," he reflected. "A lot of brutal s—t happened early on in my life. And when that happens, you live with shame. You either live in that shame and be a broken man or you get hard. I was very comfortable on the streets growing up. But there is a God. My priest told me, ‘God hears everything you say. He just doesn’t give it to you when you want it. You’ve got to keep persevering and keep communicating with him. You’ve got to talk to God before the house burns down.’"
Rourke recalled how prayer played a significant role in his life. He was 18 when he said his younger brother Joey was diagnosed with cancer at 17.
"I was told he had six months to live," Rourke recalled. "My grandmother told me about a particular saint, St. Jude. I still pray to him to this day. And my brother made it. … If Joey would’ve died at 17, when I was 18, there’s no way I wouldn’t been in the acting business."
Joey Rourke passed away in 2004 at age 50. The elder sibling admitted that for two years, he couldn’t pray. He eventually found solace in Rev. Peter Colapietro at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in New York City.
"I would talk to him on weekends," said Rourke. "And I would tell him, ‘I’m not gonna pray anymore.’ One day, he looked at me and said, ‘Mickey, nobody gets a pass. Everyone’s gonna lose a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, an aunt, and an uncle. I know how you feel deep down inside.’ I felt understood. But it took me two years before I was able to pray again."
"Father Pete saved me," Rourke continued. "He saved me from doing some really bad s---t. Something really bad happened to the person I was with, who was raped and beaten up really badly. I had very dark plans for the people that did it. But it was his guidance that prevented me from doing something really terrible. Because if someone beats up your wife, you’re not going to just give him a punch. It was no accident that I met Father Pete. … He would tell me, ‘Mickey, God will take care of those people worse than what you plan on doing.’"
Rourke said therapy also helped him cope.
"That’s the thing about getting too hard," he said. "I pretty much messed up my career in Hollywood. I would tell people I’m a man first and then I’m an actor. I went to war with everybody in the movie business. And there’s a saying in boxing, you get up when you can. And that’s what I did. I got great advice from Richard Harris years ago. He told me, ‘You can’t beat them all. There’s too many of them.’ I really wish I would’ve listened to Richard and handled things more diplomatically. But that was never my way."
Rourke admitted that at one point, he was blacklisted in Hollywood for being too difficult to work with. However, he remarked that the new generation of filmmakers aren’t afraid to go toe to toe with him on set when it comes to making a movie.
"The young guys are cool," he said. "They don’t care about what they hear. They judge me by my acting ability, not my old reputation. So it’s been sort of a resurrection of being able to work with younger directors. I have a love/hate relationship with acting. I enjoy what I’m doing at the moment because I can give everything that I’m taught. I have my confidence. I went through the s—t that I went through, so I’m able to use it in my performances. I could be standing across from any f---ing actor. And I know that motherf----r has not seen, done or been through what I’ve been through."
Colapietro passed away in 2018 at age 69. Rourke said the lessons he learned from the beloved priest have stayed with him over the years.
"You’ve gotta be tough," he said. "I gotta be tougher than the rest. I just don’t have to handle it the way I used to. … After being blacklisted for 13 to 15 years, I learned to accept the fact that there are some things that they just don’t teach you in acting school. There isn’t a class about networking or understanding that there’s a lot of politics in the studio and it’s a business. I want to do films that speak to me."
"I don’t want to make movies where it’s just one guy and a machine gun killing 200 other people just because it sells," he shared. "That’s for somebody else. It’s not for me. But one thing I’ve learned is that everything’s in God’s hands."