He may not have won the Oscar, but Mickey Rourke is taking his nomination to the bank. I just heard that ICM has scored its second casting deal for Marvel’s Iron Man 2. After at first being low-balled by the studio to the tune of $250K, Rourke has signed on for the role of the Russian villain in the sequel after his agent David Unger got the quote up to a “significant” level despite this punishing economic climate where the studios are taking advantage of talent. (No wonder Mickey kept thanking Unger so profusely in acceptance speeches for the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Spirit, and other awards.) But don’t expect Marvel to confirm any of this: they won’t until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed on the contracts. I can also tell you that Sony was considering hiring Mickey to play the villain in Spider-Man 4. Rourke happens to be in Russia this week promoting Fox Searchlight’s The Wrestler, and I hear he’ll start researching his new role immediately there. Marvel did the same thing to ICM’s Toni Howard client Samuel L. Jackson. The studio low-balled him, but then eventually came up a lot and locked in a long-term commitment for Jackson to play Nick Fury in as many as 9 Marvel films, including Iron Man 2.
I’m told that during Mickey’s first meeting with Jon Favreau, the character of the Russian villain was described in only the broadest of strokes. At the same time, Rourke’s agent was talking to Spider-Man 1-4 director Sam Raimi. I understand that Favreau really researched what Rourke would be like to work with, so Mickey’s agent gave him a list of phone numbers of directors who all had worked with the actor fairly recently — Tony Scott (Man On Fire, Domino), Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Sin City), John Madden (Killshot), and of course Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler). “They said glorious things about Mickey. Not that he’s not without his quirks. But they praised him as a really talented and gifted actor and a professional. Some of those directors did repeat business with him.”