Ask The Critic

Waste Makers

Which actor and actress have most squandered their talents? -- Laura

Mickey Rourke and Courtney Love. As each of their careers demonstrates, that miraculous combination of bad living, creative indifference, and devotion to the wonders of cosmetic enhancement can take its toll on the most electrifying personalities. Amazingly, if you go back and look at Rourke's marvelous performances in ''Diner,'' ''The Pope of Greenwich Village,'' and ''Angel Heart,'' he was once all but defined by his bow-lipped tenderness, the seductive hush he created around him. He's now a walking freak show -- though as ''Spun'' proved earlier this year, he's occasionally a mesmerizing one. I still think that Love could be a major actress: On screen, her erotic hunger is powerful, and she breaks your heart at the end of ''The People vs. Larry Flynt.'' The star system is no longer geared to performers like Rourke and Love, who really do boogie on the edge. Yet there's a chance that the right filmmaker could rescue either one of them.

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Originally posted Dec 05, 2003 Published in issue #740 Dec 05, 2003 Order article reprints