Mickey Rourke Talks About Playing Openly Gay Rugby Player Gareth Thomas

Since his 'comeback' in The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke's career has been an unusual one, to say the least. High-profile fare like Iron Man 2 and The Expendables has been balanced with duds like Killshot (filmed before The Wrestler) and Passion Play.

But one project on Rourke's horizon sounds interesting — he says he's set to play Gareth Thomas, the Welsh rugby player who made headlines not long ago when he came out of the closet, becoming what Sports Illustrated called in May 2010 "the only openly gay male athlete." (At least in a major professional team sport.)

News that this might be happening broke over the summer, provoking some unhappy commentary that centered largely on the fact that the actor is 22 years older than Gareth Thomas. But the two met and got on well, and as of the summer were working to get a script written that could be the basis for a film. We haven't heard much about the project until now.

Here's a transcription of the conversation that took place between Mickey Rourke and Brit talk show host Alan Carr on the show Alan Carr's Chatty Man, courtesy of the fast fingers of the lads at Bleeding Cool:

Carr: Is it true you're about to play a gay rugby player?

Rourke: You're not supposed to say that, okay? Here's the deal. When I met the rugby player, Gareth Thomas, this is one thing that he and I talked about. This is something that's really important. We're doing a movie about a man who plays rubgy who is gay.

Carr: Oh, I see. Sorry, I shouldn't be so homophobic.

Rourke: That's the point though.

Carr: Labels.

Rourke: Abso-fucking-lutely. I read the story. it's one of the tougerst, hardest sports in the world to play. They play with no pads. They play... it's a really brutal sport. To be a man who plays rugby who is gay and to live with that secret for the amount of years that Gareth had, to perform at the high level that he performed at, it takes a lot of courage.

Carr: Are you going to learn the Welsh?

Rourke: I have no choice.

The SI article I referenced above opens with this description:

6'3" and 225 pounds of muscle. He's broken his nose five times, fractured both shoulders and lost eight teeth. (Sometimes he would slip out his false teeth when you weren't looking and deposit them in your pint of ale.) He's drunk his mates under the table and brawled by their side. He's been named to the Welsh national rugby team more times than any other man.

Quite a role for Rourke, and an interesting bookend for his work in The Wrestler. Iron Man 2 and The Expendables got him a certain amount of attention, but in the UK at least this is a film bound to really put him in a spotlight. We'll keep on top of this one as there's little other info available right now. I'd tend to agree that he's way too old to play Thomas, but let's see what sort of script they cook up — maybe it'll end up being a 'based on' or 'inspired by' scenario more than anything else.