By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 11, 2008 at 9:32AM
In a time of downsizing and daily economic traumas, perhaps one shouldn't sympathize too much with filmmakers and stars who are schlepping from one screening/Q&A after another in order to get the awards season traction essential for specialty film recoupment. But damnit...I feel their pain.
Last night I chatted with The Wrestler gang; director Darren Aronofsky and costars Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. They'd just Q'ed and A'ed down the street before zipping into the UCLA Sneak Preview chat, but all were chipper and game to go through yet another grilling about onscreen stripping (Tomei's), pummeling, smashing, stapling, etc. (Rourke's) and general filial angst emoting (Wood's). The team has been doing the dog and pony circuit for the film since it won the Golden Lion award in Venice and that includes jumping through other festival hoops in Toronto and New York. And we haven't even really geared up for the main event, the Oscars, where the film seems certain to get some love, especially after the Golden Globe noms for Tomei and Rourke.
The audience at our screening, which demo's in at around the 44-64 age segment, seemed to get past the graphic violence and was keen to know more about Rourke's regimen for bulking up and into the role of fictional wrestling star "The Ram." Rourke first joked around about "not being tell you what I did," before a detailed explanation of how he gained about 40 pounds for the role. "Lots of protein drinks, 6000 calories a day and a lot of daily weightlifting for about seven months" was his serious explanation. "And that's how I did it," said Rourke, but sitting next to Rourke and getting a look behind his ubiquitous shades, I saw a mischievous glint that indicated maybe it wasn't so simple. At least there was no chihuahua involved in the process so I let it go at that.
Wood's prep for the intensely emotional role of The Ram's estranged daughter was simpler, but no less arduous. "I had just come off an eight-month world tour with my rock star ex-boyfriend (Marilyn Manson). After that, I couldn't wait to work on this movie!"
Aronofsky offered insights into the film's documentary-style, loosely improvisational film shoot and sounds like he's keep his energy up for the film's upcoming premiere because "we have a lot of the legends of wrestling attending the premiere." Tomei countered that she was bringing "the legends of stripping."
When it was revealed that neither Tomei nor Rourke used any stunt doubles for the soul and body baring scenes, the audience burst into spontaneous applause.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]