The Wrestler is a film directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Robert D. Siegel, and starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and Ernest Miller. Production began in January 2008, and the film premiered at the 2008 65th Venice Film Festival in August, winning the Golden Lion Award. Fox Searchlight acquired rights to distribute the film in the U.S, it was released in a limited capacity on December 17, 2008 and was released nationwide on January 23, 2009.
The Wrestler was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on April 21, 2009 in the United States. It was released in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2009.
Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke), is a professional wrestler who was a celebrity in the 1980s. He is now past his prime and wrestling on the weekends for various independent promotions in the Elizabeth, New Jersey area. After a show, a promoter proposes a 20th anniversary rematch with his most notable opponent, the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller), who now owns a used car dealership in Arizona. Their first match together sold out Madison Square Garden, and Randy agrees to the rematch, hoping this high-profile match will increase his reputation.
Randy goes home and is locked out of his trailer for not paying the rent. He takes pain medication and falls asleep in the back of his Dodge Ram van. The next day, he goes to work, loading boxes at a supermarket where his boss, Wayne (Todd Barry), does not hold him in high esteem. At night he visits a strip club where he has befriended a faded stripper named Pam, stage-named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei). He continues the training rituals for his wrestling appearance, including steroid use and self-tanning. At his next show, Randy wrestles a brutal hardcore match, in which he and his opponent, Necro Butcher (Dylan Summers), attack each other with thumbtacks, staple guns, barbed wire and glass. Post-match, Randy is treated for his wounds backstage, but he suffers a heart attack soon after and collapses.
Randy ultimately receives a coronary artery bypass and he is warned by the doctor that his weakened heart cannot stand the stresses of steroids or wrestling. Randy cancels his upcoming matches and begins working as a deli counter operator at the supermarket. Faced with his mortality, he tells Cassidy about his heart attack and tries to woo her while out for a drink. She warms to him at first and tells him about her son, but when Randy gets too close she reverts to her rule of not dating customers, leaving him alone in the bar.
At Cassidy's suggestion, Randy visits his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), whom he had left years before. She curses him and tells him to leave her alone. Randy returns later with a thoughtful gift suggested to him by Cassidy, and apologizes for being a bad father. The two bond over a visit to an abandoned beachfront boardwalk, and they agree to meet for dinner on that coming Saturday.
Randy goes to Cassidy's strip club and presents her with a thank you card for her help in repairing his relationship with his daughter. He tries to woo her again, but Cassidy once more rejects his overtures.
Dejected, Randy attends a wrestling match as a spectator and receives the attention he was seeking from Cassidy from his fans and fellow wrestlers. After watching the match, Randy gets drunk with his friends, snorts cocaine, and has sex with a woman he meets at a bar, sleeping the entire next day and missing his dinner date with Stephanie. He goes to her house in the middle of the night where she angrily tells him she can't risk getting hurt anymore by someone who is "just a fuck up", and that she never wants to see or hear from him again. Devastated, Randy honors her wishes and leaves.
Randy goes to work at the supermarket deli counter, where a fan recognizes him. Embarrassed by his job, Randy cuts himself in the deli meat slicer, screams at his boss, and quits.
Randy calls the promoter to reschedule the previously canceled Ayatollah match and sets out for the venue, despite his doctor's warnings. Before the match, Cassidy unexpectedly arrives and apologizes, urging him not to wrestle for the sake of his health. Randy explains that the real world is where he gets hurt, and the only place he belongs is in the ring.
Randy enters the ring and gives an emotional speech to the crowd before the fight begins. During the physical exertion of the match, Randy begins to feel angina, but continues despite the Ayatollah's pleas for Randy to pin him. Randy pushes through the pain and climbs to the top turnbuckle. As he does so, he notices that Cassidy is not there. Randy prepares to dive off and deliver his signature finishing move, a diving headbutt called the "Ram Jam." Brought to tears, he salutes the cheering crowd and leaps from the ropes as the screen cuts to black, leaving the outcome of the match uncertain.
- Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" Robinson
- Marisa Tomei as Pam / Cassidy
- Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie Ramzinski
- Todd Barry as Wayne
- Ernest Miller as Bob / "The Ayatollah"
Also appearing in the film are actual professional wrestlers: Robbie E, Necro Butcher, Nick Berk, The Blue Meanie, Sabian, Nate Hatred, R-Truth, L.A. Smooth, Jay Lethal, Jim Powers, Antonio Cesaro, Larry Sweeney, Romeo Roselli, John Zandig, Chuck Taylor, Nigel McGuinness, Pappadon, Jay Santana, Kevin Matthews, Johnny Valiant, Ref Hanson, Tommy Rotten, Andrew Anderson, Brolly, Danny Inferno, Mike "RAGE" Miller, Paul E. Normous, DJ Hyde, Havoc, Johnny Mangus, Billy Dream, Eric Cobian, Sugga, WHACKS, Devon Moore, The Funky Samoans, Kid USA (as Randy's stunt double), and Ron Killings.
Awards and nominations
- Academy Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Nominated)
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei) (Nominated)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Marisa Tomei) (Nominated)
- Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- ESPY Award for Best Sports Movie (Darren Aronofsky) (Nominated)
- Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song ("The Wrestler" written and performed by Bruce Springsteen) (Won)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture (Marisa Tomei) (Nominated)
- Golden Lion (Won)
- Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography - (Maryse Alberti) (Won)
- Independent Spirit Award for Best Film - (Scott Franklin) (Darren Aronofsky) (Won)
- Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead - (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- MTV Movie Award for Best Song From a Movie - ("The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen) (Nominated)
- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei) (Won)
- San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei) (Won)
- San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (Won)
- San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei) (Won)
- Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Mickey Rourke) (Nominated)
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei) (Won)
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay (Robert D. Siegel) (Nominated)