Filmmaker Brett Ratner is releasing never-before-seen footage of Mickey Rourke that has been dubbed "the real WRESTLER".
When Rourke quit acting to pursue a boxing career in 1991, pal Ratner followed him with a camera, shooting hours of footage of the star sparring in the ring.
Nearly two decades later, Ratner is preparing to release the film as part of his Shooter Series - a collection of short films he has made throughout his career.
He tells, "Even before I was born Mickey Rourke used to sleep over at my house, in my garage - he was best friends with my uncle and my mom. I grew up knowing him but then I lost track."
When Ratner enrolled at New York University's film school, he got back in touch with the star: "I was like, 'Mickey, I can't wait, I'm going to be a director and you're going to be in all my films.' And he's like, 'No, man, I'm quitting.' I said, 'What are you talking about?" He's like, 'I'm going to be a boxer.' I'm like, 'Are you out of your f**king mind? You're, like, the best actor in the world.'
"I said, 'I'm going to follow you becoming a boxer.' I wanted any excuse to film anything anyway. I literally spent months in Miami filming him. I put it in a garage, I hadn't seen it in 20 years."
Ratner was reminded of his film when he watched Rourke's Oscar-nominated turn in The Wrestler, so he dug out the footage and showed it to the actor.
The moviemaker recalls, "He saw it and was like, 'Holy shit. This is the real Wrestler.'"