Trivia / The Wrestler

  • Banned in China: The Iranian Government has condemned The Wrestler as "Western propaganda" (due to the Ayatollah character).
  • Career Resurrection: For Mickey Rourke, who had spent over ten years doing very sub-par action schlock and direct-to-video movies.
    • The movie also brought attention to Ernest "The Cat" Miller for the first time since before WCW folded in 2001 and he'd fallen off the radar entirely.
  • Cast the Expert: WWE fans will note that Ron Killings, now known as R-Truth, is among the indie wrestlers that make cameos in the film. WCW fans may recognize Ernest "The Cat" Miller as The Ayatollah. And ECW fans will recognize The Blue Meanie. In fact, every wrestler you see in this movie is a professional wrestler in real life, and they're using their actual gimmicks (save for Miller).
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • Because of how much the movie meant to them personally, Aronofsky, Rourke, and Bruce Springsteen did their work free of charge.
    • In spite of his Real Life personality, Axl Rose was invited to see an advance screening of the movie. He was so moved that he allowed the movie to use "Sweet Child o' Mine" free of charge.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Mickey Rourke gained thirty pounds of muscle, bleached his hair blond and trained to wrestle. He also cut himself for real when Randy blades in the ring.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • It's pretty clear that in every scene where Randy interacts with another wrestler (as in, an actual wrestler cast as an extra), that Mickey Rourke was told to act like, and that the others were told to treat him like, an aging but still respected wrestler. Granted, that's the very definition of acting, but aside from the scenario itself, it's obvious there was no script involved. This results in scenes like Randy walking into the makeshift locker room near the beginning of the movie and interacting with R-Truth and others later on in the gymnasium, which come across as very spontaneous with only a very broad "goal" of conversation to be reached in order to complete the scene. Contrast these scenes with actual scripted scenes involving wrestler extras like Tommy Rotton and The Ayatollah.
    • The scenes between Randy and the grocery store customers were unscripted with hidden cameras. Those were real shoppers interacting with a person they believed to be an employee.
  • Jossed: Hulk Hogan claims he turned down the role of Randy, though Darren Aronofsky disputed that - saying Mickey Rourke was his first choice.
  • The Other Marty: Abbie Cornish was cast as Stephanie, but had to drop out at the last minute, and Evan Rachel Wood replaced her.
  • Production Posse: Fans of Darren Aronofsky's work will recognize Mark Margolis (who plays Lenny) as Max's neighbor Sol from π, old Mr. Rabinowitz from Requiem for a Dream, and the Franciscan monk Father Avila from The Fountain.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Randy's wrestling career is a fairly close mirror to Rourke's acting career.
    • The conversation about how the '90s sucked can serve as this for Marisa Tomei as well as Rourke; while she won an Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny, many people sniped that she didn't really win or didn't deserve to win because she won for a comic performance, and her career suffered for a while as a result.
    • Also, before becoming an actor, Rourke was a promising amateur boxer. When his acting career stalled, Rourke decided to go pro at 39. While he was undefeated in his eight bouts, he, like Randy, was at an age where he really did not belong in the ring and suffered serious injuries trying to succeed in a sport he shouldn't have been a part of anymore.
    • Mickey Rourke also used "Sweet Child o' Mine" as his entrance music in boxing. Randy uses it as his music in the film.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Originally, Nicolas Cage was cast as Randy, and was spotted backstage at several Ring of Honor shows trying to get a better feel for the environment. He willingly stepped down in favor of Rourke, who was Aronofsky's original choice. He did also briefly consider Sylvester Stallone, but decided against it - feeling it would be too similar to Rocky Balboa.
    • Originally, Tomei's character was supposed to be a ballerina, and Black Swan was supposed to be pretty much folded into this. However, the producers felt that it was too much for one movie, and the stories were split in half. They are still considered "two halves of the same movie," however.
    • In the original screenplay, it was Stephanie who sought Randy out first. She would have been a recovering alcoholic and trying to make amends as part of her twelve-step program.

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