Actor Mickey Rourke has revealed what inspired him to play the role of the world’s first openly gay professional rugby player, Gareth Thomas, in an upcoming film.

The veteran Hollywood star claims he had the idea, during the early hours, in a London pub.

Rourke claims he was: “arm wrestling some rugby players at four in the morning”, after a heavy drinking session.

The Express reports that Rourke subsequently lost the physical challenge, and he was then given a magazine by one of the players, who were all from a gay amateur rugby club in London.

Rourke said: “There was an article about Gareth Thomas. I met Gareth and said [to him] I wanna make your life story”.

The 59-year-old has since been training with an amateur gay rugby team in Los Angeles for the past six months.

Meanwhile, speculation remains on whether Rourke will be able to play a convincing Thomas.

The actor – who is 22 years older than Thomas – says he finds it “depressing” to think that he’s lost his looks.

Rourke told Reveal that he gets upset when he sees himself in his old films.

He said: “I used to be much better looking, it’s terrible. It really sucks to see yourself deteriorate”.

However, Thomas remains confident that Rourke will deliver a fantastic portrayal of his sporting career.

The 37-year-old announced his retirement from the rugby last month.

In February, Thomas told the Sunday Mirror that: “’It’s a big, big thing for Mickey. It’s his baby and a project he really cares about. I’m really flattered and I know he’s going to do an amazing job”.