Oscar nods crown comebacks for Rourke and Downey Jr

LOS ANGELES Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:57pm EST

1 of 2. Actor Mickey Rourke poses at the 66th annual Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, California, in this January 11, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood loves a good comeback story -- especially by two very bad boys.

Mickey Rourke, who spent 15 years in the acting wilderness, and Robert Downey Jr, whose promising career was derailed 10 years ago by drugs, were both nominated for Oscars on Thursday for their respective roles in "The Wrestler" and "Tropic Thunder."

Rourke, 52, is best-known for the steamy 1986 drama "9 1/2 Weeks," but he later gained a reputation for being volatile on set and his big acting jobs dried up.

In "The Wrestler," he plays a lonely, washed-up professional athlete trying to make his sporting comeback in a role that parallels the actor's own troubled life.

"I'm doing things differently this time around, understanding what it is to be professional, be responsible, to be consistent -- those were things that weren't in my vocabulary back then," the actor told reporters while promoting the film in late 2008.

"If I knew 15 years ago it would take me 15 years to get back in the saddle and work again because of the way I handled things, I really would have handled things differently," he added.

Rourke thanked his dogs in a rambling and emotional Golden Globe acceptance speech last week. On Thursday he kept his comments brief.

"I'm so grateful and appreciative of this incredible honor. I'm truly thrilled to be included," he said in a statement.

In a neat twist, Rourke is in talks to play a villain tentatively named Whiplash in a sequel to the 2008 box-office hit "Iron Man" -- one of two movies that propelled Downey Jr. back to Hollywood big time last year.

Downey was nominated for his supporting turn as an aging action hero trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor by playing a black army sergeant in the movie industry satire "Tropic Thunder."

The former boy wonder, now 43, was Oscar-nominated for playing Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 movie "Chaplin". Seven years later, he spent almost a year in jail for heroin and crack cocaine addiction.

Asked who was the model for his role in "Tropic Thunder", the now clean and sober Downey replied: "Sadly, my sorry-ass self."

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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