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Rourke's pal Eric Roberts gets screen time at Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa

Mickey Rourke delivered a hilariously profane acceptance speech Saturday at the Film Independent Spirit Awards show, available on YouTube and definitely not safe for work.

Earlier, a clip from The Wrestler was introduced by Rourke's longtime pal Eric Roberts, who co-starred with him in 1984's The Pope of Greenwich Village. Rourke returned the favor on stage, urging filmmakers to give Roberts the same comeback chance he's enjoying.

"I don't know why, for the last 15 years, ain't nobody give him the chance to show his (stuff) again," Rourke said. "Whatever he did 15, 20 years ago should be forgiven."

Actually, more than a few filmmakers have provided Roberts that chance. One is Sylvester Stallone, who hired him for a role in the action flick The Expendables, expected to begin shooting next month. Roberts has no fewer than a dozen projects in the can, in pre- or post-production or currently filming.

Just because most of them will go straight to DVD or overseas doesn't matter. Rourke should keep up with his buddy's career better.

I recently caught Roberts on DVD in The Steam Experiment, one of the centerpiece films of this year's Gasparilla International Film Festival, opening tonight. Roberts plays one of six people locked inside a steam room by a madman (Val Kilmer, who could also use a Rourke shoutout) to bring attention to his concerns about global warming. If the local newspaper won't print his manifesto, he'll let the prisoners die, with melted lungs and cauterized eyes. Armand Assante co-stars as the detective prying information out of Kilmer.

Directed by Philippe Martinez, whose Bauer-Martinez Studios has offices in Largo, The Steam Experiment has some things going for it (Kilmer and Assante's shrewd cat-and-mouse exchanges) and some against it (the prisoners, except for Roberts, are given too much screen time, convincing us their mouths should also be cauterized). But it's worth a look.

Assante will attend the Gasparilla festival at Tampa's Channelside Cinemas, introducing the first public screening of The Steam Experiment at 7:10 p.m. (tickets are $10) and collecting a career achievement award before that at a private reception ($35, including the movie ticket). If only Roberts could be here, too. Just to explain what the heck he did 15 or 20 years ago that still needs forgiving.

Steve Persall can be reached at or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at

Rourke's pal Eric Roberts gets screen time at Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:44pm]
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