It was exactly 2:00pm when I heard some motorcycles pull up outside the room where we were going to shoot an interview with actor Mickey Rourke for Italian TV. I looked out the window to the driveway below and there was the man in person – the baddest of the Hollywood bad boys. He was riding his own motorcycle – a big harley. With him were two other lone riders who looked like Hells Angels that escaped from central casting. They parked along the wall in the driveway just before it entered the underground parking garage. Their engines revved loudly and then all was quiet.
The producers of this Interview, Carlo and Franco were pacing the room nervously as they had been for almost an hour. I was their cameraman. I can’t say that they were regular clients but I had worked for them a few times. They had a show back in Italy that focused on movies and celebrities. They came over once a year to Hollywood for about 10 days to shoot whatever showbiz stories they could get their hands on. Usually we were in people’s homes shooting celebrity fluff. But this one was different. I guessed Mickey refused to let them come to his house so they rented one of the bigger rooms at the Chateu Marmont Hotel just off Sunset Boulevard.
The “Marmont” ( as most locals call it) is a very hip botique hotel where hundreds of celebrities have stayed over the years. It’s probably been taken over by some other swank hotel as the place to be today, but back then – and we’re talking late 80’s early 90’s, the Marmont was the place. If nothing else it was famous for being the location where John Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982.
“Is that him?” Carlo asked me nervously as he crowded me at the window.
“Yep,” I said. “That is the man.”
“Who are those other guys with him?”
“I don’t know. Probably his security team,” I joked.
Neither Carlo or Franco got the joke. They just got more nervous and asked me if I was ready for the 20th time. Before I could answer a white Rolls Royce drove out from the underground parking lot and stopped. A stately looking woman is her 50’s stuck her head out the driver’s window. “I’m sorry but you can’t park there,” she said in a loud authoritative voice.
Mickey had just removed his Helmet and was attaching it to the bike. He looked up at the women with his famous bad boy scowl. “Oh yeah,” he said to the woman. “Says who?”
The woman was not intimidated. She opened the door and stood up just outside the vehicle. “You’re blocking the driveway,” she said angrily. “The cars coming out will not be able to get to the street if you are parked there.”
Mickey and the two hells angels looked at each other, then turned back to the woman. “Fuck you, bitch,” one of the Angels laughed. “Get a smaller car.”
Upon hearing this, the woman upped the ante. She left the car and started walking towards them even more angry than before. “Excuse me,” She said. “I’m the owner of this hotel and if you don’t leave right now I am going to call the police!”
When Mickey realized she was the owner of the hotel, he seemed to get even more belligerent. He moved a few steps toward her and they met just inches apart. “Oh, so you’re the owner of this fucking place,” he yelled at her. “So tell me, why is it okay for a guy like John Beluchi to come here and get himself killed, but it’s not okay for me to park my fucking god damned motorcycle here?”
The woman was so shocked by the statement, she didn’t know what to say. She just turned around and headed back towards her car. I took the opportunity to wave at Mickey and the boys
to get their attention. “Mickey,” I said not too loudly. “We’re up here. You can use the gate right there to come up.”
Mickey looked up at me, but before he could say anything the hotel owner spoke up from her car. “Are you going to move or not?”
Mickey looked at the woman, and then back up me and the Italian producers in the window. He then looked back toward the woman. “Fuck you,” he said to the hotel owner, “And fuck you,” he said to me as he turned back. “I’m not doing a fucking interview in this piece of shit hotel.”
With that Mickey and the boys were back on their bikes and making some serious racket with their engines. They turned their bikes around, but just before they roared off the premises, Mickey looked back up at us. “If you want to interview me, you can meet me down on Sunset Boulevard.”
The Italian producers were beside themselves. Their English wasn’t all that great and they didn’t get all the details of what happened but they knew it was a bad scene. It made them even more nervous than before.
“Bill, what do we do?” Carlo asked urgently. “What do we do?”
“Well, let’s go down to Sunset Boulevard and get the interview. Then you can come back up here and apologize to the owner.”
“Okay, okay,” they both said. “Let’s go. Let’s go.”
I ripped the camera off the tripod and left everything behind except one lapel mic for the interview. We raced out of the room and down to Sunset Boulevard. We found Mickey sitting by himself on a bus stop.
“I like this location better,” I said to Mickey to try to calm things.
Mickey didn’t bring up anything about what just happened, he just asked me what we were going to be talking about.
“I don’t know. I’m just the camera guy. I think they just want to ask you a few general questions. From what I heard, you have a sizable audience in Italy.”
Micky smiled sarcastically at me but didn’t say anything. He then turned to Carlo who indicated he was going to be the one asking the questions. “ So you came all the way here from Italy?”
“Yes, Mr. Rourke,” Carlo said with a big smile. “From Roma.”
“Nice place,” Mickey said. “Lot better than this trash heap of a town.”
About thirty minutes later we were back up in the room. The interview went well. It was pretty much the standard stuff with a few specific questions about the movie 9 ½ Weeks. I guessed it was because it was a big hit in Italy.
Mickey never became chummy with us, but he never got mean either. When we were done, he took off the mic himself and handed it back to me. He then jumped on his chopper and was gone.
“Bill,” Franco said. “ Is Mickey Rourke always like that? Or is that an image he likes to make believe?”
“Well,” I said. “Mickey, does have a reputation. But at the end of the day, what time did you guys set up the interview for?”
“Two O’Clock,” Franco replied as if I forgot.
“And what time did he show up…?” I asked.
“Two O’Clock,” he replied.
“Two O’clock, exactly,” I added with a shrug.