THE WRESTLER director Darren Aronofsky was so desperate to cast Mickey Rourke as retired grappler RANDY 'THE RAM' ROBINSON, he dropped Nicolas Cage from the film and sacrificed a huge chunk of his budget. dropped NICOLAS CAGE
Aronofsky had Rourke in mind when he took on the project, but financiers were reluctant to fund the film with the once-troubled star in the lead role, and forced the director to replace him with Cage.
But Aronofsky was unhappy with the switch, and decided to go ahead and make the movie with Rourke, and a much smaller $6 million (GBP4 million) budget.
He reveals, "When I did replace Mickey for a little bit, I literally couldn't sleep at night.
"I was like an insane person. I would walk up to strangers on the street and ask them what they thought of Mickey Rourke. He was haunting me. He was meant to do it."
He adds, "(Cage was) a complete gentleman, and he understood that my heart was with Mickey and he stepped aside. I have so much respect for Nic Cage as an actor and I think it really could have worked with Nic but… you know, Nic was incredibly supportive of Mickey and he is old friends with Mickey and really wanted to help with this opportunity, so he pulled himself out of the race."
Aronofsky's decision paid off for Rourke - his acting performance has earned him a Golden Globe nomination.