Interview: Marisa Tomei Talks The Wrestler

Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with Marisa Tomei and talk about her latest film, The Wrestler. Tomei’s performance was awarded Best Actress by the San Francisco Critics Circle yesterday. The interview was conducted in a two person roundtable with Jeff Anderson.

/Film: I had one question, and I’m hoping it’s not a dumb one or one that you’ve been asked too many times, but say you’re in the middle of shooting The Wrestler, and you’re walking around and people are like “Hey Marisa, what are you working on right now?” What do you tell them? Do you tell them “I’m playing an exotic dancer,” and what kind of reaction does that get? Or do you say “I’m working with Darren Aronofsky.”

Marisa Tomei: It depends who it is. It depends who asks me. It depends what I want to tell them and what kind of reaction I want to elicit.

/Film: Because exotic dancer is a strange thing. There’s this sort of– there’s a lot of them. Some of them win Oscars and some of them– so I don’t know– there’s a weird connotation to that role before people see it, when you’re just working on the film before people know what the movie’s going to be.

Marisa Tomei: Oh, yeah, well what is the history? Do you mean like Julia Roberts or–

/Film: Do they conjure up Pretty Woman or Leaving Las Vegas, or do they conjure up something else?

Marisa Tomei: Right.

/Film: I guess the answer is it depends on who it is. If it’s somebody in high school that you didn’t like, you would tell them “I’m working with Darren Aronofsky.”

Marisa Tomei: <laughing> Exactly, which would really be impressive because we went to the same high school, so…

/Film: Really? Oh, I didn’t know that.

Marisa Tomei: Yeah. We’ve recently– I mean we realized it, but now we really embrace it.

/Film: But you didn’t know each other in high school.

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New Photos: Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Fox Searchlight has released three new production photos from Darren Aronofsky‘s The Wrestler. The first of which features Oscar hopeful Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson jumping off the top rope at a small independent wrestling event. Below we see Aronofsky on set, and judging by his beard (which he traditionally grows out throughout production) the photo was likely taken during the middle of production. And the third photo below shows Marisa Tomei as Cassidy, Randy’s stripper friend, who as you can see looks a lot different outside of the strip club.

The Wrestler hits theaters on December 19th 2008.

The Wrestler Press Conference


Fox Searchlight has released five videos from The Wrestler press conference at the New York Film Festival. A lot of it was covered in our extensive three-part interview with Aronofksy last month (you can read there here, here, and here) but there are some juicy bits that make these worth watching. Plus, its fun to hear Mickey talk about his preparation for the film. Check the videos out after the jump.
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TIFF Review: Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Some might say that The Wrestler is a departure from director Darren Aronofsky, while many others may look at it as an evolution. One thing is for sure, it’s very different, and certainly more mature than the filmmaker’s previous work. I’d love to compare it to Paul Thomas Anderson’s transition from films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia to There Will Be Blood. The Wrestler, like TWBB, strips it down to the bones. The fantastical stylized cinematography has been replaced with gritty handheld and performances so realistic that you’ll feel like you’re watching a documentary. Understated and simple seem to be the buzz words being used to describe the film affectionately. The Wrestler is a heartbreaking, beautiful film.

A fan asks Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) to sign an autograph while reminiscing about seeing his first wrestling match at the Spectrum. “You were awesome,” the fan tells Randy. WERE being the key word. The Ram is now playing to small crowds in high school auditoriums and armories. We’re not talking about someone on the level of Hulk Hogan, who was able to make and save cash along the way. Imagine someone like Jake the Snake Roberts, who is now traveling to independent wrestling events on the weekends to pay the rent. Robinson finds himself living in a van after being locked out of his junk-filled trailer by his landlord.

At the conclusion of a hardcore wrestling match, Robinson suffers a heart attack backstage, collapsing in his own vomit. The doctor tells the wrestling legend that he can no longer wrestle, and has to start taking better care of himself. Lonely and depressed, Randy befriends a 30-something-year-old tattooed stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) and begins working weekend shifts at the deli-counter at the the local supermarket. Randy also tried to reconnect with his estranged 22-year-old daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). But all Randy knows is the ring…

Rourke was born to play this role. Mickey’s performance is worthy of all the Oscar buzz that has been floating around since the Venice premiere. Also, Tomei and Wood’s performances should not be discounted. Robert Siegel’s screenplay is so very detail orientated, and Aronofsky gets every single one of them right – from the opening credit sequence which shows the Ram’s illustrious career through clippings from Pro Wrestling Illustrated Magazine, to the behavior of the wrestlers behind the scenes. This is the first fictional film I’ve seen to accurately portray professional wrestling.

The Wrestler does for wrestling what Rocky did to boxing. Those who have no knowledge of this world will be fascinated by the peek behind the curtain. From planning a blade job, to mapping out the match with the opponent, to the illegal drug purchasing, to a scene which shows medical assistants picking staples out of a wrestler’s body following a hard core match. My favorite shot of the entire film follows Randy as he leaves the rush of the ring, to the unglamorous lonely backstage area. It is easy to see how this attention can become addicting, especially when the rest of the world doesn’t care about you anymore.

/Film Rating: 9 out of 10

New Photos: Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky‘s The Wrestler makes it’s premiere next month, and we have the first batch of official promotional production photos. Aronofsky’s The Wrestler tells the story of a old professional wrestler (Mickey Rourke) barely making a living on the independent circuit, who is told by a doctor that he could die if he wrestles again. It’s a film which attempts to do for wrestling what Rocky did for boxing. Marisa Tomei plays a stripper friend named Cassidy and Evan Rachel Wood plays his estranged daughter Stephanie. We will be seeing the film at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and will check back in with a review from the fest. But for now, check out these photos. As always, click to enlarge.

Sure, Darren Aronofsky‘s new film The Wrestler is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5th, but I’m sadly not going to be there to see it. But I’m excited to report that the film will also be playing at the Toronto International Film Festival two days later. And yes, we will be there to file a report.

Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream) recorded his score for the film last week in Los Angeles. Apparently Slash, formerly from Guns and Roses provided some guitar work. Aronofsky writes “he really tore it up.” And apparently there is “another musical surprise” but we won’t find out until next week.

Aronofsky’s The Wrestler tells the story of a old professional wrestler (Mickey Rourke) barely making a living on the independent circuit, who is told by a doctor that he could die if he wrestles again. Marisa Tomei plays a stripper friend named Cassidy and Evan Rachel Wood plays his estranged daughter Stephanie.

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If Bijou Phillips could act, she’d be Marisa Tomei. When Julianne Moore does nudity, it’s like she’s making a fiery feminist statement with a dash of humor. When Tomei does it, like in the first minute(s) of Sidney Lumet’s sharp Before the Devil Knows Your Dead or in Slums of Beverly Hills, it’s like she’s bringing you some Colgate for your toothbrush and she adores you, sleepily. Does that make sense?

The Oscar winning actress has signed on for Darren Aronofsky‘s The Wrestler, and she’s set to play the female lead opposite a long haired, peaked Mickey Rourke. And, yeah, she’s playing a stripper with child. Rourke moves in with her and builds a relationship with the tyke. I have to see this movie, because the sleaze factor is flowing as freely as Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. I want accents too heavy for trash bags, loud ’80s fabrics and a sex scene set to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (the song is in the flick).

Here’s Peter’s review of the script from a few months ago. Also, keep an eye on the film’s official site for updates and possible parts as an extra.

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