“A director that doesn’t have any balls”: Mickey Rourke Went to Russian Prisons for Iron Man 2, Robert Downey Jr. Was Asked to Stay Out of His Way

The director Jon Favreau praised Mickey Rourke for flying to Russia and going to prison to show commitment to his role in Iron Man 2.

Mickey Rourke Went to Russian Prisons for Iron Man 2, Robert Downey Jr. Was Asked to Stay Out of His Way

SUMMARY

  • Mickey Rourke was imprisoned during his research for the role of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2.
  • The cast and crew wisely avoided interfering with his research, allowing him to fully inhabit the character's mindset.
  • Rourke proposed that the character speak half Russian and half English, got gold teeth fitted into his mouth, and hired whip coaches.
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Mickey Rourke had certain requirements when he was offered the role of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2. He was, in fact, imprisoned during his travels through Russia. That would not be news if the former professional boxer was not conducting research for Whiplash. Yes, as part of his training for his role, the actor turned prisoner as he voluntarily spent some time in the Russian infamous Butyrka Prison.

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The Robert Downey Jr. starrer’s cast and crew wisely avoided interfering with Rourke during this taxing research process, allowing him to fully inhabit the character’s mindset. There were many obstacles in the 2010 follow-up to the 2008 Iron Man, almost causing the whole thing to implode. Iron Man 2, a box office success of around $38 million over the first movie, virtually guaranteed that Marvel movies were here to stay, even though it was regarded as inferior to the first film.

Mickey Rourke
Mickey Rourke

Also read: “I didn’t even read the script”: Mickey Rourke Was in Shambles After Quentin Tarantino Cult Classic Went to Bruce Willis Due to His Recklessness

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Mickey Rourke Never Wanted His Ivan Vanko To Be ‘One Dimensional’ Bad Guy 

While researching his Iron Man 2 role, Mickey Rourke went to the Butyrka prison, where he proposed that the character speak half Russian and half English. He also got gold teeth fitted into his mouth, hired whip coaches, and traveled the world to learn more about Vanko’s past, according to the MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios.

The week after Rourke’s filming, director Jon Favreau, 57, stated:

“He [Mickey Rourke] took it upon himself to fly to Russia and go to prison, which I thought showed some commitment. He keeps faxing me lines that he wants to translate into Russian that he wants to his cockatoo, I say, ‘that’s your prerogative.’”

Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2 (2010)
Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2 (2010)

Even the Robert Downey Jr. starrer Iron Man 2 cast and crew avoided getting in the way of Rourke, with guests being cautioned not to approach or interrupt the actor at any time.

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Instead of just turning this Russian into a full-fledged murderous, vengeful bad guy, he wanted to add “some other layers” and colors. But despite his best efforts, most of the nuance in his performance was cut out of the movie. Speaking to MTV Splash Page, the Rumble Fish actor, 71, attributed Vanko’s shortcomings to both the studio and Favreau, accusing the latter of lacking conviction:

“If they let you play the bad guy with other dimensions other than one-dimensional. You have to fight for that though, to bring layers to the character. Otherwise, if you’re working for the wrong studio or let’s say a director that doesn’t have any balls, then they’re just gonna want it to be the evil bad guy.”

Also read: Mickey Rourke Says He Has No Respect for Marvel Despite ‘Iron Man 2’ Director Succumbing to His Outrageous Demands in MCU Film

Robert Downey Jr. in & as Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. in & as Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. Also Contributed To Some Unusual Demands?

Not just Mickey Rourke was the movie star with the unusual request. Robert Downey Jr., in the first Iron Man, insisted on Classic Maya keyboards for every computer in Tony Star’s laboratories. The task of making the props fell to visual designer Ryan Meinerding. Jim Rothwell, an animatic editor at Marvel, stated (via MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios):

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“You could see the steam coming out of his ears.”

Then Downey Jr. took things a step further for the second film. Even when he tried to explain it, his philosophy remained a disorganized collection of concepts. He recalled:

“I don’t know where I fall. Spiritual Green Party? There were times when I was the whole Hare Krishna thing, which is pretty far out. Now I would call myself a Jew-Bu, a Jewish- Buddhist. But there were many times when Catholicism saved my b*tt.”

Robert Downey Jr. in and as Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. in and as Iron Man

Regarding his Tony Stark role as a hero, Downey Jr. said to Collider:

“It’s kind of heroic, but really kind of on his own behalf. So I think there’s probably a bit of an imposter complex and no sooner has he said, ‘I am Iron Man–’ that he’s now really wondering what that means..”

The action scenes and acting in Iron Man 2 were praised, even though critics thought the movie fell short of the first one. With over $623.9 million in box office receipts worldwide, the sequel ranks seventh in terms of total earnings for 2010. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

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Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Iron Man 2 can be streamed on Disney Plus.

Also read: Iron Man 2 Star Mickey Rourke’s Ex-Wife Allegedly Repeatedly Violated as 16 Year Old Model, Pimped Out to Billionaires: “Everytime his wife left the apartment”

The Struggles and Triumphs of Robert Downey Jr.

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Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1655

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1600 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.