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ROONEY, MICKEY : Babe Pig in the City

He has starred in over 300 films (and his eight wives have included actresses Ava Gardner and Martha Vickers) and despite the fact that his role in Babe: Pig in the City has been edited down, the actor recalls the fun he had making the movie, as he tells PAUL FISCHER.

"It was the most rewarding experience I've had in years, and I don't have to tell you how much I cared for George Miller," Rooney exclaims. "I play a kind of guardian to this group of chimpanzees, and I can't speak - except in the language they understand, which was incredibly challenging and rewarding for me as an actor."

"Who wouldn't jump at the chance to work with George? He's a genius."

The film continued a love affair that Rooney says he's had with Australia for years, and he recalls "being utterly amazed at the new studios in Sydney. I felt honoured to be one of the first actors - human ones at any rate - to work there." Rooney recalls the enormous scope of the film. "The picture is so BIG, and you can tell that it was costing over $100 million because it was right there, up on the screen." Rooney never saw the film as a sequel, he says. "I never thought about it in those terms, because it had its own life." Babe director George Miller was keen to have Rooney play one of the few human characters in the film, and as luck would have it, Rooney was in Australia at the time. "I was in Melbourne participating at the opening of the new Crown Casino [which has the best Chinese food I've ever eaten in my life by the way] when George approached me to do this. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to work with George? He's a genius."

"when you marry your best friend, love grows"

As for those eight marriages, have they brought him any great insights into women? "I don't think anybody knows anything about women," he says. "I think all women are different. Nobody knows about women. Why is the girl you go with never the girl you marry?" But he does concede that marriage is something he does know plenty about. "Don't marry anybody you love; that's the secret of a happy marriage. Marry somebody you like," he advises. "Love is sex, love is drunkenness, but it never lasts. But when you marry your best friend, love grows."

Unfortunately, he was never much good at taking his own advice. "I didn't say I followed the policy. These were things I learnt through trial and error. I've been married to my present wife (country singer Jan Chamberlin) for 22 years, so at least I've found out the reason why you make it last. And I've got news for you: people that follow what I tell them end up happily married."

"all divorces are like a five-car smash; everybody gets hurt."

He is still unsure about what went wrong with his previous marriages. In his memoir, Life is Too Short, he said that his marriage record amounted to a form of human failure. He now says: "It was my failure at being sensitive. I think everybody is selfish in marriage. And all divorces are like a five-car smash; everybody gets hurt."

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Note: No images of Mickey Rooney from Babe: Pig in the City were approved for publicity purposes.

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