If anyone is celebrating Mickey Rourke’s comeback as much as Mickey Rourke, it’s his agent, ICM’s David Unger. Unger took on the actor as a long shot, believing he had a Marlon Brando-type talent on his hands. Unger ultimately helped resurrect Rourke’s career from virtual oblivion all the way to the Oscars.
The unlikely and enviable comeback has cast a spotlight not only on Rourke, but on Unger as well. Rourke has been candid about the fact that when Unger picked him up, no one in the business wanted to work with him. Apparently, intense and complex types don’t intimidate this agent. He has repped a small gang of diverse characters, including Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff, as well as a coterie of hip directors like Tony Kaye, Jonas Akerlund, and Malcolm Venville. His stable also includes such international actors as Anil Kapoor and Gong Li.
If there’s anything connecting the eclectic bunch, it’s that their agent knows how to identify talent that can change and evolve—from a struggling former playboy to an enigmatic Oscar nominee, a music-video director to a featurefilm director, or from fame in China and India to Hollywood celebrity.
“To be honest with you,” says Unger, “I always wanted to be a director, so now I get to live vicariously through my clients.”
Rourke thanked Unger at the Golden Globes for “having the balls” to represent him. We might have said it differently, but we couldn’t agree more.