Mickey Rourke has hired a top personal trainer to get him into shape to portray former Wales international legend Gareth Thomas in new movie.
The 59-year-old actor is looking lean and mean and has dropped two stone as he continues to transform his body, having already had work done on his eyes.
Producer Colin Vaines has contracted trainer and stunt co-ordinator Nick McKinless, who also happens to be a pretty good rugby player, to work with Rourke on engineering his body so that he could pass muster on the rugby pitch.
It was McKinless who got Ralph Fiennes into shape for the film Coriolanus, which Vaines produced.
Rourke, who won a best actor Bafta and was Oscar-nominated for his role in The Wrestler, wants to explore the psychology of how Thomas currently in Celebrity Big Brother was able to hide his sexuality as he played the most macho of sports.
“It’s a film about a man who played rugby, who was so aggressive when he played and he happened to be gay,” the Daily Mail quoted Rourke as saying.
“It took a lot of courage to be in his world and do that.”
Principal photography will begin in September but film-makers are exploring ways to shoot some background footage during the Six Nations rugby games which start next month.
Rourke has had countless conversations with Thomas and has fed a lot of that material into the film’s screenplay.
He sees the portrayal of Thomas as one of the last great roles of his career even though there’s a 22-year age difference.
“When Mickey’s committed, as he is with this, he can do anything. The age isn’t a problem,’ Vaines said.
The actor and his collaborators, Thomas, Vaines and director Antony Hoffman, see the film as the story of a man battling his own demons.
“I’m thinking of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull meeting Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life, where sport was used as a backdrop to explore an inner torment.
“Gareth said to Mickey that he always had to be more macho on the field, because he was carrying a secret,” Vaines added.