Magazine article Newsweek

A 'Wrestler' Who Lives in the Ring

Magazine article Newsweek

A 'Wrestler' Who Lives in the Ring

Article excerpt

There are two comeback stories in director Darren Aronofsky's new film, "The Wrestler." The first stars Randy (the Ram) Robinson, a washed-up pro--when the tights come off, the hearing aid goes on--who won't quit the only job he knows how to do. The second stars Mickey Rourke, who plays the Ram and gives a raw, career-resurrecting performance. Aronofsky spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about both.

Why wrestling? Was it a boyhood passion of yours?

Not really. Like most guys my age, I had an eight-month romance with wrestling. But it's such a huge part of the American landscape. And when I started to do the research and I went around the indie circuit, I saw these legends--guys who had sold out Madison Square Garden--suddenly working for $200 a night. There's a whole section of the video store with boxing movies, yet no one's done wrestling. I think that's because most people think it's fake, so they think it's a joke. But if you're a 300-pound man jumping off the top rope--even if you're trying to protect yourself and your opponent--you're going to feel it. That's the reality of these guys' lives.

Marisa Tomei's character is a stripper, and it seems like you're linking the Ram's job and hers--they're both peddling flesh, selling their bodies?

A stripper and a wrestler are both walking this line between what's real and what's fake. They're both creating a fantasy for the audience. They both have fake names. They both even wear spandex [laughs].

There's a possibly apocryphal story that you told Rourke, "If you do everything I say, I'll get you an Oscar nomination. …

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