And Iron Man 2, in which he plays Tony Stark's tattooed Russian nemesis, Ivan, is possibly the biggest movie yet in Rourke's new career. For Rourke this means going to Russia, drinking vodka and visiting jails to study prison tattoos and find his character's tics. "I decided to do half my role in Russian," he beams, "and that's hard because the Russian language doesn't roll off the English-speaking tongue very easily. I spent three hours a day with a teacher, and after two weeks I know four sentences! Let me see, it's sort of like... 'Yezzamee menya... Yezzamee manya obott... Er, nemaboootty menya...'"
This goes on for quite some time. "It means," he says, finally, "If someone kills me, don't wake me up, because I'd rather be dead than live in your world."
Iron Man 2 hits theaters on May 7th, 2010 and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Garry Shandling and John Slattery.