The ''Iron Man 2'' baddie on how he made Whiplash come to life

In preparing to play the marquee baddie in the summer’s biggest superhero movie, Mickey Rourke must have steeped himself in comic-book lore and boned up on supervillainy, right? ”Nope, not at all,” he says. Rourke, 57, admits he’s not a fan of comic-book movies, so he just went with his own instincts in building the character of Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, a Russian criminal and inventor obsessed with taking down Iron Man. ”I didn’t want to make him your typical one-dimensional, cowboys-and-Indians bad guy,” Rourke says. Coming off his career-resurrecting turn in 2008’s The Wrestler, Rourke visited Russian prisons to help get in the proper head space. Learning his Russian lines, though, wasn’t easy: ”It’s a tough f—ing language. I worked for three months on just a few lines, then I’d go home, and my girlfriend, who’s Russian, would make fun of my accent.” Fearsome as he looked with his muscles (shaped by hours of training with a 40-pound vest on) and tattoos (all based on real Russian prison tattoos), Rourke had the idea to humanize Vanko by giving him a white cockatoo as his sole companion. ”That just popped into my head,” he says. ”I thought it would be more interesting than having a cat.”

Iron Man 2
  • Movie
  • 125 minutes