January 8, 2009 / 3:30 AM / 10 years ago

Rourke and Rockwell circle "Iron Man 2"

Mickey Rourke, star of the film "The Wrestler," poses at the film's Los Angeles premiere in Beverly Hills December 16, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell are in talks to play the villains in “Iron Man 2,” which is eyeing a spring start ahead of a May 2010 release.

A very tight lid is being kept on the script, but it is known that Rourke would play a tattooed Russian heavy named Ivan who becomes Whiplash, a man with deadly, technologically enhanced coils.

Rockwell would play Justin Hammer, a multibillionaire businessman and a rival of industrialist Anthony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, a role being reprised by Robert Downey Jr.

Gwyneth Paltrow is also returning as Tony Stark/Iron Man’s executive assistant, while Don Cheadle is replacing Terrence Howard as the hero’s best buddy. Another part — one for Stark’s assistant Natasha — is still open.

Jon Favreau is also back as director of the Marvel Studios/Paramount project, working from a script by Justin Theroux. The first film, released in April, grossed $582 million worldwide.

Rourke is making the best of the accolades he is receiving for his heart-wrenching turn in “The Wrestler.” On top of this big-budget movie, the actor, who will next be seen in “The Informers,” just joined the cast of “The Expendables,” an action movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren.

Rockwell is best known for his indie dramas. He recently starred as a sex-addicted con man in “Choke” and as an estranged husband in “Snow Angels.” He can currently be seen in the political drama “Frost/Nixon,” playing David Frost’s researcher, writer James Reston, Jr.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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