When Sean Penn walked away with the best actor award at the Oscars for his stint as Harvey Milk, there was at least one big name ready to tag in on the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences - the Nature Boy, Ric Flair.
Flair, the Greatest Wrestler of All Time, did this fascinating interview with CBS, giving his thoughts on the punishment professional wrestlers take in pursuit of entertainment and talking about his admiration for Rourke's performance as a wrestler at the end of his line in "The Wrestler."
Rourke's Randy "The Ram" Robinson plays a man broken, broke and battered who only has one thing to live for - the ring - and it's the very thing that's killing him through a combination of hard living and the abuse of the event. It's a role that one of Hollywood's true cast-asides bent to fit his own life in a lot of ways. Rourke knows the hard life of the road, the toll fast living takes on a body and even the bangs and bruises from a filed attempt to become a professional boxer - all of which garner Flair's, one of the great villian wrestlers of all time, respect.
Rourke doesn't treat wrestlers as the joke many believe them to be, but as consummate entertainers and athletes. Especially the group his over-the-hill champion cavorts with, filled with never-will-bes grappling in blood and broken glass in high school gyms and Legion halls for peanuts. And you can see in the interview the real ache Flair feels to be out there, doing again what his body and time say he can't do anymore.
But Flair can take some solace in Rourke's win, fittingly, at the Independent Spirit Awards, if not for the vindication, for the cracking acceptance speech - definitely not safe for work - that may not be the brilliant showmanship of Flair at his best in the NWA,
but certainly keeps the crowd - Eric Roberts, in particular - on its toes.