To say that Mickey Rourke did not have a great experience making Iron Man 2 just might be the understatement of the century. Since the movie’s original release in 2010, the Oscar-nominated actor (and SVU superfan) has taken every possible opportunity to trash the Iron Man sequel and Marvel at large. But it sounds like the feeling could most definitely have been mutual.
Over at Vulture, senior reporter Chris Lee traveled back a dozen years to revisit the behind-the-scenes chaos on Iron Man 2, much of which revolved around Rourke, who was fresh off a Best Actor Oscar nomination for The Wrestler. The one-time hottie was hot again (critically-speaking), but when he was approached about playing Ivan Vanko, Iron Man 2’s baddie, Rourke didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t know a thing about Marvel, nor did he really seem to care.
Despite asking “What’s Iron Man 2?” and “What’s Iron Man?!,” Rourke agreed to sit down with star Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige. That’s when things got even more bizarre. As Lee writes:
Still, without having read so much as a page of the script (which was not yet finished) and in spite of his total unfamiliarity with the Marvel Comics foil he would portray, Rourke showed up at a meeting with Feige and Favreau at Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons Hotel to lay out his demands. “I’ll do it,” this source recalls Rourke saying. “But I have to have my hair in a samurai bun. I have to speak in a Russian accent. And I have to have a bird on my shoulder.” (All three demands were met.)
Though Rourke wanted more money than the $250,000 he was being offered, sources claim Downey offered up part of his own $10 million paycheck in order to get the actor in the film. The 9 ½ Weeks star reportedly took the role seriously and took a deep dive into researching the life of a Russian prisoner, even going so far as to visit Moscow’s Butyrka Prison.
Though it’s unknown exactly when Rourke finally got around to reading the script, he was seriously irked that so much of his research was for naught. “I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a murderous, revenging bad guy,” Rourke said in an interview with Crave Online. “Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up on the floor.”
Hey, at least he got the parrot!