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The Surprising Tarantino Role Mickey Rourke Regrets Passing On

Hollywood can be a mean machine. For some, it is the kind of place for endless wealth and success; for others, it can be a place of struggle and strife. Still, others find both. These are the people that the machine chews up and spits out. Everyone from former child actors like Lindsay Lohan to bona fide stars like Robert Downey Jr. have seen their lives get turned upside down.

One familiar story of this is the saga of Mickey Rourke. As a budding actor in the 1980s, he was primed to take over as a Hollywood A-lister until his career took a downturn. Rourke's story is a template for the dangers of the Hollywood machine, the importance of mental health, and the eventual consequences of childhood trauma.

The actor recounted to The Independent that he alienated himself during his fall from grace and angered many people. He felt invincible and that his career was too big to end. He also said he let an entire decade of movies pass him by, and that he passed up a number of roles, including one that would have seen him play a big part in one of Quentin Tarantino's more iconic films.

He could have been Butch Coolidge

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Rourke recounted some of the film roles that he passed up during his Hollywood fall. He spoke about Kevin Costner's role as Eliot Ness in "The Untouchables." He remembers getting a call from Dustin Hoffman for "Rain Man" and turning down a role in "Silence of the Lambs." While all three of those movies would certainly feel completely different without the leading men we've come to know and love, one role merited a more detailed explanation for his refusal of the part.

"Quentin Tarantino called once — I think it was for 'Pulp Fiction,' the part Bruce Willis played," Rourke recalled. "I didn't even read the script. I allowed myself to get proud and angry because I could do the acting. I thought I'd have to be dead not to f***ing work."

When Bruce Willis took the role of Butch Coolidge, he had already solidified himself as a presence in Hollywood with "Moonlighting," "Hudson Hawk," and "Die Hard." His role in "Pulp Fiction" elevated his status as he starred alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and John Travolta. For Rourke, his downward spiral had firmly set hold by the film's release in 1994. It is hard to imagine what could have happened differently for him had he become a frequent collaborator with Quentin Tarantino in the way Jackson became.