Mickey Rourke Reignited the Long-Standing Feud with Robert De Niro

After filming hit movies, many actors leave with newfound friendships that last a lifetime. However, for others like Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke, their starring in “Angel Heart” was the beginning of a never-ending feud.

Actors Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke have been feuding for years, their dispute stemming from a 1987 disagreement on the set of “Angel Heart.” Even after years of squabbling, they are still unable to reach a common ground.

Due to their unmatched acting skills, it is easy to imagine that they had always been inclined towards entertainment. For Rourke, however, a career in the film industry came to him by chance.


Abandoned by his father when he was only six, Rourke’s childhood was unhappy. He often sought solace in a boxing ring, training from the same gym that the professional boxer and activist Mohammad Ali sprung.

His amateur boxing saw him bag a record 139 wins, and he was well on his way to making it big as a pro until an injury stamped him out of the ring. Thankfully, when a friend asked him to fill in for a no-show lead in a play, he found where his heart had always been.

The acting bug had bitten the boxer, and he was more than ready to leave behind his sporting aspirations and chase a dream in the film world. And so he set out to New York, with him a pittance of 400 dollars to get him started.

After years of doing part-time jobs and numerous acting classes, he was finally ready to try out his first part, which he landed in 1981, as bomb maker Teddy Lewis in “Body Heat.”

While his role only appeared on-screen for a few minutes, it was a great start, and he never looked back. He went on to land roles in the cult classic hits such as “Rumble Fish” and “Angel Heart,” in which his relationship with De Niro was severed.

De Niro has never responded to the claims or Rourke’s outbursts.

De Niro’s first taste of fame came after he appeared on the 1973 “Bang the Drum Slowly,” but his volatility was tested when he appeared on the 1973 “Mean Streets.” However, his role in “The Godfather: Part II” won him his first Academy Award.


In 1987, both De Niro and Rourke were cast as Louis Cyphre and Harry Angel in the Alan Parker movie “Angel Heart.”

While their feuding seems to have many layers, it all began with their character’s complex relationship on-set. Considered a method actor, De Niro refused to speak to Rourke, and every time they shared scenes, it would be a sparring session.

Rourke would later claim that it all began from a scene in the movie that required the two actors to come into slight contact, as the script required them, but then De Niro asked Rourke not to touch him.

Rorke also disclosed that when they were the first cast for “Angel Heart,” Rourke admired De Niro and considered him his idol, but soon after, the “Goodfellas” actor began ignoring him. Speaking to Italy’s “Non è la D’Urso,” Page Six reports him to have said:

“About five minutes later, [De Niro] comes over and says, ‘I think it’s better if we don’t talk because of characters in the movie. It’s better if we don’t say hello, talk or anything.'”

“The Wrestler” star says De Niro’s actions deeply hurt him because he’d always looked up to him, but things have since changed, and instead of looking up to [De Niro], he now looks through him.

Many feuds like this don’t often last long, but De Niro and Rourke’s disagreement lasted them four decades, and none of the two seem ready to raise a white flag.


The two actors have since had many public differences over the years, but in 2019, Rourke reignited the feud when he claimed that he had missed out on a role in the 2019 Martin Scorcese’s movie “The Irishman” because De Niro would not work with him.

He said that Scorsese wanted to meet him for the movie, along with De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, but the casting director allegedly told Rourke’s manager that De Niro had refused to work with him due to their long-running feud.

De Niro’s representatives, however, disputed the claims, saying that Scorsese had never even considered Rourke for the movie. This response is what triggered Rourke to say smutty unprintable words about De Niro.

Rourke took to his Instagram to call out De Niro, claiming that “The Intern” actor had been quoted in a newspaper calling Rourke a liar for his claims about “The Irishman.” He said of his one-time co-actor as reported by the Independent:

“Listen Mr. Tough Guy in the movies, you’re the first person that ever called me a liar and it was in a newspaper.”

The angry Rourke did not, however, give a reference to the said newspaper. He also would not disclose what part he was meant to play in “The Irishman.”

He went on to call De Niro a crybaby, swearing by his most beloved people and pets that he would take it upon himself to embarrass De Niro as a sort of twisted payback for the “pain” he’s caused him.

In the since-deleted Instagram post, Rourke wrote down the incendiary words accompanied by a classic movie photo of the “Taxi Driver” actor smoking a cigarette.

While Rourke is not new to fights, his conflicts with De Niro seem to have earned his longest-running rumble award. De Niro has never responded to the claims or Rourke’s outbursts.

Rourke went on to star in the 2020 movie “Girl” while De Niro played Ed in the 2020 family comedy film “War with Grandpa.”


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