Oscars 2009: Best actor battle between Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn

Although Rourke has made it a clean sweep of the major movie awards so far, Penn’s turn in Milk is regarded as the best performance of his career. He plays Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official.

Penn is an Oscar veteran, winning in 2004 for Mystic River and nominated three times previously: for I Am Sam (2002), Sweet and Lowdown (2000) and Dead Man Walking (1996). In any other year, his role in Milk would likely win him the award, but this year Academy voters are divided.

Rourke would certainly be the popular choice. The 56-year-old actor has admitted that the role of has-been fighter Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson in The Wrestler was a little too close for comfort.

A huge star in the 1980s thanks to his roles in Rumble Fish, 9 1/2 Weeks and Angel Heart, he was hailed as the next Marlon Brando. But the Hollywood heart-throb earned a reputation for being difficult to work with and he made a series of disastrous career moves, reportedly turning down the lead roles in Top Gun, Rain Man and Beverly Hills Cop.

His personal life also came to overshadow his acting talent, particularly his tempestuous relationship with model Carre Otis. He was arrested for allegedly assaulting her, but she dropped the charge. Their marriage lasted from 1992-1998.

In 1991, and with Hollywood no longer interested, Rourke declared he had “lost respect for acting” and dismissed the profession as “women’s work”. He returned to his first love of boxing – his surgically-reconstructed face is blamed in part on the various injuries he sustained in the ring.

Full published article at: Telegraph.co.uk

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