Interviewing the often volatile Mickey Rourke, who plays a ruthlessly brutal king in 'Immortals,' is perhaps slightly less terrifying than facing him down on a battlefield. Luckily, he was in a good mood when he talked to Moviefone, good enough to make a few jokes and play a guessing game about which 'Immortals' costar he wants for his passion project about Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas. He also didn't mince words when talking about his 'Wrestler' director Darren Aronofsky, although when coming from Rourke, "sonofabitch" is an endearment.
[EARLIER: Rourke blasts 'Seven Psychopaths' director]
King Hyperion kind of makes Hannibal Lecter look like Mr. Neighbors. Did you have fun playing him?
I did have fun playing him. I kinda knew I would. Not when I read the script, but when I met Tarsem, just because he's very talented, he's very secure, and I knew from his commercial background that he would transcend whatever the material was.
How did Tarsem sell it to you?
He didn't sell it to me. Somebody else educated me about him. I looked at all his commercial reels and I thought, "Well, this guy's a shooter," and I'd like to think I caught him at a time in his career when he cares about integrity over a dollar. This is not a genre that I normally would go, "I'm dying to do this," but I think the timing was good because it all felt right. The script was good enough, where I went, "If a guy like Tarsem who does those kinds of commercials is passionate about this, I don't mind going on the ride with him."
Had you seen any of his movies, like 'The Cell?'
I saw a few minutes, but you can't be judged by some movie you did a while ago. It was his commercial reel as a shooter that I was very interested in.
What's Tarsem like as a director?
He's terrific on the floor. What puts him in the category with the really great directors is you can make a choice and then he can tweak it by just giving you an adjustment. He'll say, "Before you cut the guy's head off or take his eye out, go in there and pet the cat or take a bite out of the apple." He's got the intelligence level where, if you make the choice, than he can make the choice even more interesting by a little adjustment. That's what separates the good guys from the sh-t.
Would you work with him again?
In a heartbeat. I'd work with Tarsem tomorrow. Absolutely. And not only is he a visual genius, he's so prepared. His pre-production ... whatever it cost the studios, two years preparation for the wardrobe is worth it. And he's very uncompromising in his little Indian way.
The movie is pretty violent. You think anyone might have an issue with that?
That depends on one's point of view. I don't have any issue with anything. I don't care what anybody thinks. Never have, never will.
How would you compare the level of violence in this to say, 'The Wrestler?'
Oh, I don't even compare the two. They're just two different worlds, two different genres.
What about the training you had to do? Was it anything like what you went through for 'The Wrestler?'
I was actually recouping from tendon surgery. I didn't get to train that much because I had an operation on my bicep.
Did you hurt yourself while prepping for your movie about Gareth Thomas?
Yeah. My passion of my life right now is taking a year off to train for that movie. I've written it and we're putting it together for April. It's called 'The Beautiful Game' and I know somewhere in my mind and body it'll be the most important movie I'll ever make.
Who's going to direct?
A South African guy out of commercials, like Tarsem. His name is Antony Hoffman. I saw his commercial reel and I was blown away from that. And he played rugby before he got into the film business so he understands and really loves the game. Actually, I was on location in South Asia when we got on the phone and he was on the way to New Zealand to watch South Africa in the World Cup. So that was a very good sign. I told him Gareth was there, so those two talked and everything's coming together. The only thing's that coming apart are my legs.
Are you going to be up for this role? It sounds really physically intense.
It's going to make the f-cking 'Wrestler' look like Puppy Chow. I moved my trainer in with me five months ago and it has just been brutal. It has been hard. We're trying to work it out where we shoot all the rugby stuff first because it's just -- we've got about 15 days of rugby and I don't know how the f-ck I'm going to get through it. It'll be probably the last time I get in this kind of shape.
There was a story going around that you were going to take your teeth out to play this part.
They always f-ck it up when they paraphrase. All I said is, "I don't have any front teeth, I'm going to take my bridge off." I haven't had front teeth since I was 19, so I'll have to get the bridge taken out, that's all. But they make it like I'm going to have my teeth pulled or something.
Thanks for clearing that up.
Yeah, thank you. Like I'm going to get four teeth taken out. I don't think I'd do that.
Do you have anybody else in mind to co-star in the movie?
I do, but I don't think I'm at liberty to say. Maybe one of the people happens to be in 'Immortals,' but you'd have to guess.
Henry Cavill might be hard to get after 'Man of Steel.'
You guessed way wrong.
You're going to have to go have a time-out.
Uh-oh. Well, Luke Evans happens to be Welsh.
[Pause]. A very great actor. He's going to have a monster career. I'd put my money on Luke Evans.
So might he be the one you'd like to have in your rugby movie?
I'm not gonna tell you, honey. But it's a great idea.
What would you say your relationship is with Hollywood these days?
Long distance. Let's put it this way, Marc Canton [producer of ''Immortals' and '300'] says hello to me when I'm at a restaurant. People said, "If Rourke can work with Aronofsky and they don't kill each other, things have changed."
Would you make another movie with Darren Aronofsky?
He is a sonofabitch, but he's so talented, I'd work with him again, but this time he'd have to pay me. He's a phenomenal director. They don't make them any better than him.
Can you be a good director and a nice guy?
Not Darren, no. But that's OK, because if he delivers like he does, then he can be a sonofabitch. He hates it. He cringes when I say that. He'll say, "You're going to scare all the other guys away." He might want some of these leading men and they're going to hear me say that. I was talking to someone -- I can't tell you who it was -- but I was sitting in a place one time talking to two major A-list Hollywood stars and they were like, "You're going to work with him?" It was like, "Yeah, man, I'm going to work with him." But Darren, listen, when you work with Aronofsky, you've gotta be in shape. He's so smart and he's so driven that it's like a great football coach. You want to play on his team. But the truth of it is, I'd probably go to work for free for him again. Yeah, he's that kind of guy.
I loved that great speech you gave when you won your Spirit Award for 'The Wrestler' and you dedicated it to your dog who had just passed away.
Aww, Loki. I put her name on the cement with me. [His hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre was on Oct. 31.] Loki's name's right there.
You said your dogs were the only ones you can count on in Hollywood. Is that still true?
Well, that was then. If you're not dead in the ground and you can't get a job, they treat you a whole helluva lot different. It's funny, I was having a conversation with Luke Evans the other night. He said, "Oh, I've got a whole bunch of new friends. And I got a whole bunch of old friends who treat me differently." And I said, "Hey, it goes with the territory." But he said to me, "I remember now who they are." Oh, you never forget.
Are you mentoring him a little bit?
No. Just having a conversation. I might not be the best one in the world to get advice from.
What are you doing between now and April?
I'm going to do a cameo in a little movie with a Nigerian director and I'm just going to work a couple of days on that. I'm shutting down everything down because I'm going to work on the Welsh accent and it's going to take me another six months to get my ass in shape, so it's going to be training twice a day, eating like a sparrow and a lot of cardio.
You're game for 'Sin City 2?'
I don't know. We'll have to cross that bridge when it comes. But I would entertain the thought.
Fans would really like to see you back for that.
Maybe the people should take a vote whether they want me to do it or not.
I think that would be a resounding yes.
We'll get all the comic book nerds together and see.
Great. Thanks, Mickey.
Give them all in Nerdville my best.
Follow Moviefone on Twitter
Like Moviefone on Facebook