It was rumored this summer that Mickey Rourke is interested in playing Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas on screen. Rourke confirmed this to English comedian Alan Carr on his talk show Alan Carr: Chatty Man, though he wants us to be careful about how this news is presented. You see, in addition to playing rugby, Thomas happens to be a homosexual. Carr, an openly gay man, asked Rourke, “Is it true you’re about to play a gay rugby player?” Rourke responded:
“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.”
Hit the jump for the (less confrontational) rest of what Rourke had to say about the potential role.
Bleeding Cool kindly transcribed the relevant part of the conversation, in which Carr apologizes before arriving at an understanding with Rourke:
Carr: Sorry, I shouldn’t be so homophobic.
Rourke: That’s the point though.
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.
If Rourke initially comes off as terse, it does appear to be in service of Thomas’ wishes. The Sun’s July report on Rourke’s interest in the role quoted Thomas:
“I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man.”
Thomas announced publicly that he was gay in December 2009. Rourke is said to have wanted to play a rugby footballer for some time, and saw an opportunity in the media coverage surrounding Thomas’ announcement.
I am exceptionally American, so I don’t know much about rugby. But I do have a general understanding of the relationship between age, athletics, and biopics. Rourke is 58. Thomas is currently 36. I believe that the latest you could enter this story is December 2009, following Thomas’ coming out, when he was 35. That’s a problem, no?
In fact, I’d like to issue a blanket apology to rugby for our inability to depict your sport. First we get the 5’10” Matt Damon to play 6’3″ rugby giant Francois Pienaar in Invictus. And now an 58-year-old is meant to play a thirtysomething athletic specimen? I honestly don’t see how this works. Rourke is admittedly buff, and I’m sure he can learn Welsh well enough to fool me. But this is not a man who looks young for his age.
As a virile young Brit, I think you have a responsibility here, Tom Hardy.