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Hardy versus Rourke for Thomas Rugby role?

MickeyRourke.jpgA while ago it was reported that the story of the famous Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas was going to be made into a film, and what's more that his role was going to be played by Mickey Rourke, yes the fifty-nine year old actor would be playing the super fit Thomas, now thirty-seven, through his career.

I didn't see it myself and I certainly thought it was grabbing headlines as it seemed to be more Rourke publicly fishing for the part than anything. Well now a slip in the media could have revealed a far more appropriate choice for the part.

Gareth Thomas, in case you didn't know, is a retired Welsh professional rugby player who played in various well known teams throughout his career as well as his country. The surprising thing about Thomas was that at the time of playing he was also openly gay, a credit that stuck with him for being the first openly gay professional rugby player although he clearly said he wanted to be known as a rugby player first, saying through Wikipedia:

"What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby."

Which I wholeheartedly agree with, strange then that we'd see a film about that very aspect of his life, and yet when word came that Mickey Rourke was looking to play the man it seemed clear that the film wasn't going to play solely to the "first openly gay professional rugby player" moniker.

Rourke seemed to be the driving force behind the film as the 2011 Daily Mirror article through Wikipedia claims when it quotes Thomas as saying:

"Out of the blue, Mickey rang me up more than a year ago, offering to make a film based on my life...

...I think Mickey will find it easier to learn the art of a scissors switch or tap tackle than the Welsh language - I believe he's got a speech therapist lined up to help him with some of the linguistic challenges.

But I've been over to Los Angeles, I've been to the studios in Hollywood and I've seen Mickey at work, how committed he is to the detail of a character.

If he cares about something and is passionate about it, I know he will do whatever it takes to master a role."

Since then there have been other comments about Mickey Rourke's training for the role, saying that he's not only training physically and engaging a speech coach, but there were even claims that he's had surgery to look more like the character, something I find hard to believe.

BBC Wales wrote about the story too:

Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke has said he hopes to play Thomas in a biopic after the pair had talks in London...

The article also had a quote from Thomas' manager:

"A script writer has been chosen for the film and is getting to known Gareth...The idea is that he will be with him throughout January to get to know Gareth as well as he can...Mickey is extremely hands on in the whole process of the film and is fully intent in bringing this to fruition."

With both Rourke and Thomas revealing the same story to the press it seemed that it was more than Rourke fishing for a role and the production was really moving forward, and yet there's been little more, until now.

Dark Horizons through The Playlist caught a news story on The Sun site, and we all know how reliable they are, which was subsequently pulled proving it was either true or made up, we don't really know right now. Anyway the story claimed that Rourke was out for the role and they were looking for other actors, and the name Tom Hardy was mentioned.

Apparently Mickey Rourke made the following quote:

"...the physical thing is harder than I thought, I'm just trying to get fit enough to do it."

That was followed by Gareth Thomas saying something similar:

"We're now talking to other big-name actors who could play the part instead. We had talked about using computer-generated special effects with Mickey but we don't think that will be as realistic, so it's time to find someone new."

The problem is that the story has been pulled from the source and to make it more confusing the story has been replaced with a reiteration that Rourke is still up for the role with Thomas saying:

"I teamed up with Mickey because there's nobody better to take on such a challenging role and nothing has changed."

So right now we aren't sure what's actually happening with the production and if Rourke really is going to be able to take up the role, frankly the thought of Tom Hardy playing Thomas is much easier to take, he's bigger, a great actor, and he's in the right age range to pull it off, putting Rourke in the role makes it a much more generic story, but maybe that's the point.



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