Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Rourke’

While appreciating every aspect of film-making, when it comes to deciding what to watch, I’m just about totally actor-oriented. Definition of a favorite: I’ll go out of my way to get hold of movies they’re in; and watch just about anything, if they’re in it.

Steve Buscemi
Richard Dreyfuss
Ralph Fiennes
Andy Garcia
Bob Hoskins
Harvey Keitel
Michael Pitt
Mickey Rourke
James Spader
James Woods

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I obviously haven’t been paying enough attention. Here’s the story:

By a strange coincidence, the last two movies I saw featured the same actor. This lad looked vaguely familiar, but that’s not surprising, because he has the tabula rasa quality that lets him be anybody. Michael Pitt isn’t exactly the most memorable name, either.

Why did I order these two movies, anyway? Funny Games, I forget where the recommendation came from, but I saw it first, and thought the Paul character was plenty creepy; reminiscent, in fact, of certain over-entitled youth who tend to show up in a college town like the one I live in. A 2007 Choire Sicha piece described him as “the cheeriest, cleanest, shiniest sadist ever” and Pitt told the interviewer,

In a lot of ways I had the easiest role. The straighter I played it, the sicker it’d be.

For Delirious, the “why” is easy: I’ll watch anything Steve Buscemi is in. What a great movie. As it turned out, this was when I really started to wonder, “Who is this Michael Pitt?” and looked up the filmography – DUH, of course I’ve seen him before. In the movie I adore, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I hadn’t really paid attention to the actor’s name, just accepted him as Tommy Gnosis and thought no more about it. It was more important to know that Stephen Trask did the vocals in the movie, so that was the name I associated with the character.

Well, the veils of ignorance are cast aside, and now I know exactly who Michael Pitt is.

It’s like Mickey Rourke’s early days. I’m thinking of Teddy the arsonist in Body Heat – he was so compelling, and much hotter than anything else in the movie. I’m thinking of Rourke in Diner. And mostly I’m thinking of him in Francesco. He was incandescent.

Michael Pitt is the same way. This guy has got it, got it, got it. It’s more than erotic appeal, although plenty of that is present and accounted for. The sexiness isn’t in his body (there are a million just as nice), it’s in how he talks and mostly in the kinetic dimension of catlike grace when he puts his arms around a girl. Something in the way he moves, indeed.

The Delirious script was written years before Pitt joined the project, but there are eerie parallels between Toby the character and Michael, the aspiring actor and emancipated youth who panhandled and slept outside. The real-life Michael Pitt then, for a couple of years, shared a one-bedroom Chinatown apartment with several other struggling kids.

Pitt worked as a bike messenger, which is a hella rough life, whose awfulness is depicted in Tami Hoag’s terrific novel Kill the Messenger. Whoever owns the option on that book, take note: Michael Pitt would be great in the lead. I’m available to write the screenplay.

Apparently in the Cobain-based Last Days, Pitt does his own singing. He also plays guitar and sings in a band called Pagoda, which played at SXSW 2007. In an interview, he talked about finding somebody to play cello like it’s never been played before, which is a noble ambition. Pagoda’s rendition of “Hey Joe” is worthy. In their “Happy Song,” you can see where Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome influenced music videos.

For Delirious, writer/director Tom DiCillo wanted an actor who would be equally plausible climbing out of a dumpster or a limo. Here’s how he describes the character he chose Michael Pitt to play:

There are some people born in this world that are truly innocent. These strange and blessed people somehow keep going, keep the light of hope and trust in their hearts despite the fiercest disappointments. I believe the world is drawn instinctively to these people, partly out of joy and partly out of a desperate longing to somehow consume their beauty and their power.

That paragraph came from DiCillo’s production notes, which are well worth checking out.


Photo: courtesy of
via this Creative Commons license.

RECOMMENDED: 2002 Michael Pitt interview in Movement

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