Multiple media outlets are reporting today that Hollywood movie icon Mickey Rourke is planning to make the move from portraying Hulk Hogan (or a Hulk Hogan-like character for his Academy Award nominated role in “The Wrestler”) to real life rugby ace, and gay sporting role model,Gareth Thomas.
Thomas, who formerly played professionally for Cardiff and Toulouse, and was also a star on the Welsh national team as well as the British and Irish Lions, came out of the closet last year to the applause not just of gay rights advocates around the world, but many of his fellow athletes as well. According to an interview with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” it was reported that Thomas is the first male athlete in any major sport to come out of the closet while they are still playing.
Thomas was the first Welshmen to reach the centenarian mark for the Welsh national team, ending his streak at 100 appearances for Wales, and scoring a try in his 100th match, a World Cup pool match loss to Fiji.
He has since moved from Rugby Union to Rugby League (explanation of the two codes can be seen here) and is currently playing for Welsh rugby league team The Crusaders. Thomas might find his way back to the union side of the game shortly, as the Crusaders have been placed into administration due to financial difficulties.
Mickey Rourke’s topsy-turvey life in the Hollywood spotlight is well known to many people who have followed the entertainment news shows, or read “Variety” at anytime in the last 20 years. Rourke first became a household name in the 80s, working in such movies as “9 ½ Weeks,” “Barfly,” “Body Heat” and other films. Rourke’s notorious difficulties on set, in addition to his role in “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” (nothing particular, just the fact that he starred in this film-pocalpse) sped his way into the boxing ring, and out of Tinseltown until his return in the first part of the 2000s.
It will be interesting to see how the 58-year-old Rourke does with the physical demands of playing rugby, as well as playing the role of someone over 20 years his junior.