Rourke confirms plans to star in Thomas biopic
December 30, 2010
Thomas has since switched to rugby league with Super League side the Crusaders © PA Photos
Actor Mickey Rourke has confirmed that he plans to bring the story of Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas to the big screen.
Thomas, a former Wales captain and his country's most-capped player, hit the headlines last year when he revealed he was gay - making him one of only a handful of high-profile male sportsmen to admit to being homosexual.
Rourke was taken by Thomas' story after reading a profile of him in Sports Illustrated and later met with the former British & Irish Lions international to discuss the 15 years he spent concealing his sexuality while playing.
Reports in the last few months have suggested that a film project was in the pipeline and the 58-year-old Rourke, best known for his roles in such films as 9 1/2 Weeks and The Wrestler, has now confirmed his plans to play Thomas in a film of the player's life.
"I read the story. It's one of the toughest, hardest sports in the world to play. They play with no pads," he told Channel 4 chat show Chatty Man. "It's brutal. To be a man who plays rugby who is gay and to live with that secret for the amount of years that Gareth had, to perform at the high level that he performed at, it takes a lot of courage."
Thomas came out via an interview with the Daily Mail in December 2009 and has since become a prominent gay rights activist and also switched to the 13-man code with Super League side the Crusaders.
The film's script is still in development and finance has yet to be secured with the rugby theme a potential barrier. The film Invictus, based around Nelson Mandela's impact on the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, was a critical success but struggled commercially.
However, Rourke insists no allowances would be made and said the subject matter would be handled sensitively. "When I met Gareth Thomas, this is one thing that he and I talked about," he said. "This is something that's really important."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9