Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke has been speaking about his quest to play openly gay rugby star Gareth Thomas on the silver screen.

The rugby player, who came out a year ago, remains the only top level out gay sportsman in Britain today.

Speaking to the openly gay comedian Alan Carr on his Chattyman Channel 4 programme, Rourke said: “To be a man who plays rugby who is gay and to live with that secret for the amount of years that Gareth [Thomas] had, to perform at the high level that he performed at, it takes a lot of courage.”

The star got the idea for making a film about Thomas after reading about the Crusaders player coming out late last year.

A spokesman for Thomas said: “Mickey Rourke is a big rugby fan and was flying to New York from London recently when he read an article about Gareth and thought he would be the perfect model for a film.

“Mickey contacted Gareth by a mutual friend in rugby league to express his interest and invited Gareth to watch the Jonathan Ross show and meet him for dinner afterwards.

“The fact that Mickey is so passionate about doing a picture has been really flattering and although we haven’t come to an agreement yet we’re really hoping it does happen.”

Rourke, 57, is understood to have been wanting to make a rugby-themed film for some time.

A veteran Hollywood star, he made his comeback in The Wrestler in 2008, for which he won an Oscar nomination.

He was criticised last year for calling a reporter a “faggot£. Despite being attacked by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, he refused to apologise for using the homophobic slur and later said: “I don’t really give a f**k. Life’s too short.”