Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler

Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler

By Beth Accomando

Interview with Marisa Tomei and Darren Aronofsky

Remember Body Heat? Remember the sweet-faced arsonist with the soft, sexy voice? That was Mickey Rourke in his breakthrough film role. But you might not recognize him in his latest film The Wrestler in which he plays a beat up and tired veteran of the wrestling circuit. The film is the fourth by indie director Darren Aronofsky and he fought to cast Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

“I was always interested in casting Mickey,” Aronofsky says, “ but it was pretty tough to find the money with Mickey involved. No one thought he was a sympathetic performer. He’s been playing tough guys for the past fifteen years but if you look at his work from the eighties it was just so rich and dangerous yet incredibly vulnerable and sexy, and it’s a strange mix that you don’t get that often.”


In The Wrestler, Rourke gives a riveting performance as he takes us through the ins and outs of the wrestling world. “Mickey does all the stunts in the film,” Aronofsky says with some awe, “It’s an amazing accomplishment for someone at his age, his point in life, to be physically that fit and to take on those types of stunts.” What made it even more impressive is that Aronofsky set up real matches in order to get real wrestling fans as extras:

“The whole concept was to take Mickey Rourke and stick him in as much reality as possible. One of the ways we did that was one of our producers became a wrestling promoter, and we worked with real wrestling promotions like WXW, The Ring of Honor, CZW, and we put on real wrestling matches. People would come and buy tickets and we’d put real wrestlers in two matches and we’d be backstage shooting footage. And then we would run out there and shoot a little piece of the wrestling match and maybe get two or three takes. Then the audience would start to get restless and start booing us and we’d rush out and then put on more wrestling matches. Mickey would catch his breath as we re-loaded and slowly over two nights we’d shoot the whole match and all the fans are real fans and the wrestlers were real wrestlers.”


In the film, Rourke’s character tries to hook up with a stripper played by Marisa Tomei who found a lot of parallels between the two characters.

“They both have fake names, they both go on a stage and create a fantasy for an audience, they both wear spandex, they both have a hard time separating the real world from the fake world, and their livelihood is their bodies and they’re both endangered by time. They both sort of deal with their aging bodies as well as that line between reality and their work. That’s kind of what their film is about.”

“We’re both at a crossroads in our lives,” Tomei adds, “In a way he’s being betrayed by his body and to a degree their bodies are betraying them but even more so they are being pushed out by the thing that they have given their whole life to. And they have to face the music. My character is a little better prepared to reinvent herself.”


But Rourke’s The Ram doesn’t know how to do anything but wrestle. Aronofsky wanted to capture that wrestling world with a degree of authenticity.


“It’s a really hard life and no one’s really documented or seen it because people think, ‘Oh it’s fake.” So it’s a joke. But it’s a real art and maybe it’s not as real a sport as boxing and maybe not as theatrical as Macbeth but it has a little bit of both.”


The Wrestler opens in San Diego on January 9.