Rourke's Oscar campaign too much of a good thing?

Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:05am EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Mickey Rourke is stalking you.

Anytime you read something about the Oscar race, or if you happen to live in Los Angeles or New York, you're likely to run into the "Wrestler" star and his comeback tale.

At a screening in Santa Monica last Friday, the actor again presented his well-honed character. It's comprised of equal parts hard-bitten repentant ("There's always going to be the man with the axes inside me, and it's my job to keep him the f--- quiet") and selfless craftsman ("I grabbed bums off the street to run lines with them in the middle of the night," he said of his devotion to acting). In the last week alone, he has sat for six Q&A's.

The Rourke full-court press shows what has become a popular, even dominant, method of actor campaigning. Call it the Pennsylvania Democratic primary method -- if a story gets told enough times, momentum gathers, goodwill accumulates and a nomination is born. Or so consultants hope.

The approach isn't limited to Rourke. While they're unlikely to appear in any switched-at-birth-features, Richard Jenkins, in his way, is doing the same thing. The "Visitor" star, an actor who has more than fifty film credits to his name and is already well-liked in acting circles, has come to town numerous times to promote his candidacy via interviews and public appearances.

Jenkins is one of the nicest guys you'll meet, as sweet and straightforward as Rourke is brash and complicated. The character actor has, with good humor, turned on the charm of a Midwestern dad who's just happy to be a part of it all. "I have both anticipation and dread about awards," Jenkins said. "It's a world I'm not familiar with. But I love the movie, so I'm happy to do it."

Thrusting an actor into the limelight -- which Fox Searchlight is doing for the star of "The Wrestler" and Overture for the star of "The Visitor" -- can pay dividends. It keeps a role on voters' minds. And it makes the season feel like a living, breathing event instead of just a collection of screeners and screening dates.

But at some point, it can offer diminishing returns.   Continued...

<p>Mickey Rourke arrives with his dog Loki for the award ceremony of the Venice Film Festival, September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>