Comeback star Mickey Rourke got a standing ovation after giving a riotous, decidedly uncensored acceptance speech for winning the best actor award at the Spirit Awards on Saturday.
The Wrestler star, 56, dedicated the trophy to his beloved Chihuahua, Loki, who passed away last week. “I’ve just gotten thousands of letters from strangers and people that know me about my dog that died six days ago, Loki. This is for you, baby,” said the actor, who has been riding a career resurgence thanks to his role as a washed-up prizefighter in the drama.
He gave an extended shout-out to his friend, actor Eric Roberts, calling Roberts “probably the best actor I have ever worked with. I don’t know why in the last 15 years, no one has given him the chance to show his s— again.”
Roberts, the brother of Julia Roberts and father of Emma Roberts, has enjoyed a bit of a career resurgence with appearances in the The Dark Knight and Heroes. He was sitting in the audience and shouted to Rourke, “Accept your award!”
Rourke also thanked the film’s director, Darren Aronofsky, and his costar, Marisa Tomei, whose name he momentarily forgot.
“Not many girls can climb the pole,” said Rourke, referring to Tomei’s role as a stripper in the movie. “She climbed the pole, and she did it well.”
It was a big day for Rourke, who is favored, along with Sean Penn, to win the Best Actor Academy Award on Sunday. His film, The Wrestler, also won for best picture at the Spirits, which honor independent films that cost less than $20 million to make.
“I didn’t realize how many closet Mickey Rourke fans there were,” Aronofsky told reporters backstage. “That’s been the biggest surprise of the whole trip.”
Rourke’s victory lap started before the ceremony on the red carpet, where he held a championship wrestling belt aloft and playfully mauled actress Rachel Weisz, the wife of Aronofsky. Rourke told reporters he had no speech ready for either Saturday or a possible Oscar win.
“I don’t have anything prepared,” said Rourke. “It’s out of my hands. My work speaks for itself and the rest is a lot of gray and a lot of politics. If it’s about the work that’s one thing. If it’s a popularity contest that’s something else. If Sean [Penn] wins, he’s a friend of mine – I’ll stand up and clap for him.”
The best actress winner was Melissa Leo for Frozen River, while Penélope Cruz took home the supporting actress trophy for Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
James Franco, who played Harvey Milk’s boyfriend in Milk, won for best supporting actor. “When I heard this thing was happening with probably my favorite actor, Sean Penn, and it was such an important story, that was enough for me,” said Franco while accepting his award.
Other honors included: Allen, best screenplay, for Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Tom McCarthy, best director, for The Visitor; Milk; best first screenplay for Dustin Lance Black and best documentary for James Marsh’s Man on Wire.
• With reporting by SCOTT HUVER