Even Mickey Rourke is a little surprised that he stars in “Iron Man 2″ as a metal-toothed, tattoo-skinned villain named Ivan Vanko.
First off, his career up until his casting — white hot ’80s star, then Hollywood has-been, then amateur boxer and finally Oscar-nominated actor for “The Wrestler” — is not exactly the most conventional route to a starring turn in a mainstream-genre blockbuster. But, after the first “Iron Man” grossed $585 million worldwide, Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau decided they wanted Rourke — and Rourke is exactly who they got.
“Like I say, time changes people and thank God the [first] movie made a lot of money due to Robert and Favreau’s direction and insight and passion for filmmaking, so they had enough juice where they could go, ’Oh, let’s put Mickey Rourke in the movie,’ ” the actor told MTV News. “And they fought for me to be in the movie and I’m very grateful for that.”
And once Rourke got the part, he had some very specific ideas for Vanko and his electrified tendril-outfitted alter ego, Whiplash. “I said to Favreau, ’I don’t want to make him a one-dimensional meanie, a bad guy like they do in a lot of movies,’ ” Rourke explained.
Rourke had in mind the villains from old Sergio Leone Westerns played by the likes of Eli Wallach or Henry Fonda. He also wanted Vanko to have a mouthful of metallic dental work, a body covered in tattoos and a white cockatoo of whom he is quite fond.
“[Favreau] had to fight for the teeth and the tattoos and the bird. Everything was a little bit of a fight,” Rourke said. “The Marvel people, who could have easily said no, said yes. They trusted Jon and Jon trusted me and Robert was very supportive.”
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