With an Oscar nomination on his resume and a plum role in the upcoming "Iron Man 2," life is looking up for Mickey Rourke – but the actor hasn't forgotten about the rocky road he's traveled to get here.
FOX's Pop Tarts obtained excerpts written by the actor from the new paperback edition of PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk's book "One Can Make a Difference: How Simple Actions Can Change the World," which detail Rourke's tortured childhood and the friends who helped save him as an adult.
"My stepfather used to crack my head just because he felt like it. He was big, very big, and mean. And he was physically abusive to my mother. I hated the f***er for hurting her, for making her afraid. For years, I wanted nothing more than to take him down. In our neighborhood, there was some community services center set up to give kids a place to go and to keep us out of trouble. That's where I first found a speed [punching] bag. To me, it represented a ticket to manhood," the 57-year-old actor reportedly wrote. "I couldn't beat my stepfather, so I guess I started taking it out on everyone else over time. When I was an adult, I would fight everywhere, anywhere, for anything. Look at me sideways and you're gone. I didn't care about the consequences. I was drinking and taking drugs. But more than that, I was angry and crazy and ashamed of how I'd been treated. I'd been kicked around a lot, so I figured the way to fix this was to lash out."
In adulthood, Mickey's battle with addiction caused his marriage to model Carre Otis to fall apart and almost cost him his own life.
"I don't like to talk about it because I still love her, but when my wife walked out, she said, 'You need help!' and I thought, 'f*** you!' She was right; I needed to change, but I didn't want to change," he wrote in another passage. "But one day I looked in the mirror and I saw myself the way others saw me; I saw the armor and I scared the f*** out of myself … Instead of going to a therapist and telling him everything, and I mean everything, it would have been easier just to go to a priest, leave some s*** out, then have him tell me to say some Hail Marys and Our Fathers and that's that! In fact, I actually did see a priest for a while, a great one who stopped me from blowing my brains out. We'd go in the basement, he'd pour me a glass of wine, we'd smoke cigarettes, and then we'd pray. But I needed a shrink too, so I forced myself to go. I had to learn not to let people push my buttons, find out what was triggering all this rage, and stop throwing things away. I've barely missed a therapy session in over a decade, and that takes willpower."
In addition to therapy and his faith, Rourke credits his six rescue dogs for truly saving him.
"I had to look after them and watch out for them, which meant I couldn't do the things that were not good for me to do," Rourke wrote. "I was sitting in a strip club in London a year or more back. Some drunk guy came up to me and started to pick a fight over something he'd read in the paper about 'Those f***ing little dogs you got!' I asked him to be nice. He got in my face. I stood up but I didn't do anything. The bouncers came over and put him outside. In earlier years, I would have done him in. It's not easy not to react, but I work on it all the time. I'm a work in progress; every day I have to remind myself to keep on that road."
Fans will see Rourke back on the big screen on May 7, 2010, when "Iron Man 2" hits theaters.