"I had some things I had to fix," smiles Mickey Rourke, explaining his lengthy absence from the screen. With colossal understatement, he adds, "It's taken me 14 years to do it."
Born in Miami, the 48-year-old actor broke through with small but memorable performances in the likes of ensemble coming of age drama, Diner.
Electrifying leading roles swiftly followed in the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Barfly, Rumble Fish, Angel Heart, and, famously, Nine and Half Weeks.
Hailed as the new Brando and James Dean rolled into one for his tough but emotionally bruised performances, the 80s was Rourke's decade.
Then, inexplicably, he made St Francis of Assisi biopic Francesco. It was the start of a catastrophic fall from grace.
The 90s began with the limp soft porn Wild Orchid. It sank without trace, as did everything else he touched from that point on. By the end of the decade he was to be found among the "also featuring" on the mind bogglingly bad Shergar.
Declaring acting "a womanly profession", if his career choices were disastrous, a low tolerance for Hollywood sham and a short fuse ensured his life off screen wasn't much kinder. Two messed up marriages, accusations of domestic abuse, a stint as a professional boxer that saw him go down to a first-round knock out by a washed-up middleweight, and an addiction to plastic surgery were just the highlights.
Broke, house repossessed, credit cards confiscated, he was left alone in a one room bungalow with his Chihuahuas.
But when you hit bottom, the only way left is back up. Whatever bridges he burned, there were still admirers ready to throw him a life line.
The slow character actor comeback began with prison drama Animal House in which he stole the film with just two scenes as a transvestite; then he transfixed in drugs drama Spun and gave a mesmerising performance in Once Upon A Time In Mexico.
Now he reunites with Mexico director Robert Rodriguez for Sin City, a stylish and ultra-violent translation (as opposed to adaptation) of Frank Miller's cult graphic novels.
Part of an ensemble cast that also includes Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Benicio De Toro and Jessica Alba, Rourke plays Marv, a seemingly indestructible tough guy with a face that looks like Hellboy's uglier brother, who embarks on a bloody vengeance quest when the hooker who befriended him is murdered.
Rourke, who describes Sin City as "film noir on crack", was "happy" to put up with a minimum hour and a quarter in make up each day for the chance to work with Rodriguez again.
"There aren't that many people that you work with that you go 'Oh man, I want to work with him again'," he explains.
"He very much reminds me of Coppola when we did Rumblefish. His direction is very simple, he knows exactly what he wants, he is very well prepared. And I wouldn't have any resistance taking direction from him."
Something, of course, Rourke found notoriously difficult to do in his previous life.
"It was never really fun back in the day to work with directors that were older than you, who were authoritarian. I had a problem with that, always.
"But you get these young guys like Robert and they're fearless. He loves going to work, he's a man who is still like a kid. And he doesn't have any bad intentions or sinister agenda. He's not like Oliver Stone, you know what I mean!"
Rodriguez reveals how Rourke would play Nine Inch Nails' version of Johnny Cash song Hurt to get into character, but you also have to assume that whatever demons were churning away inside Marv were readily identifiable on a personal level.
"I've looked in the mirror and felt myself like that before, for years," he drawls slowly as the memories drift past.
"It's the ugliness, I guess. When Marv makes up his mind to do something, he goes all the way and does it and doesn't think about the consequences."
Although it's a close fight between him and Willis, Rourke wins the movie on points, his sheer charisma and, it must be said, still potent acting chops, exploding from the screen. Having clawed his way back, he's well aware that he still has the potential to sabotage himself and is determined not to let the inner Marv loose again.
"I'm going to keep my mouth shut," he declares with a gritted laugh. "I just don't want to make the same mistakes I made my whole life. I f***ed up big time and you know, I've been paying the price for it ever since. If I could say it wasn't my fault and blame all these pricks out there, I could live with myself. But the fact was it was my fault and it was my anger and stuff I couldn't get over from a long time ago.
"I tried to make everybody else pay for it and in the end I dug a big deep dark hole for myself."
Fifty next year, he's certainly on a roll now, following Sin City with Domino, his second film for Tony Scott in which he co-stars with Keira Knightly in the true story of Laurence Harvey's daughter who gave up her career as a fashion model to become a bounty hunter.
"Keira's a terrific girl to work with," he beams. "I don't particularly like actresses, but I loved her, she was a real champ. And Tony, if I could work with him for the next ten years I'd be a happy camper."
If Rourke can keep connecting with films and filmmakers that allow him to work his thing while accepting collaborative efforts in a spirit of mutual respect, there's no reason to suspect he'll be reaching out to press the self-destruct button again.
After experiencing hell he's determined to give it his best shot.
"Change is very difficult but sometimes change is needed if you are going to survive," he reflects. "I sort of look forward to it."