Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas: Mickey Rourke may still play me
The former Wales rugby captain Gareth "Alfie" Thomas says Hollywood star Mickey Rourke has not ruled out playing him in a biopic of his life.
The Oscar-nominated actor will attend a gala in Newport, Gwent, on Saturday in aid of Thomas's children's charity.
Thomas, 37, who came out as gay in 2009, says Rourke understands him better than any other actor could.
He also confirmed filming could start as soon as the end of the summer.
"I want him to play me," said Thomas, who won 100 caps for Wales during his union career.
End Quote Gareth Thomas on Mickey Rourke
These Hollywood stars were saying how lucky I was to have him want to play me in a film, because he's the best”
"He knows me, he understands me more than anyone else," he said.
"When I went to America with Mickey, these Hollywood stars were saying how lucky I was to have him want to play me in a film, because he's the best."
The pair have formed a strong friendship and, while the script is still being fine-tuned, Thomas said filming should begin soon.Passion
"The core of the story is my journey through my life - rugby and the passion I have. But it's my life and my life outside rugby," the he said.
Thomas ended his six-year marriage to childhood sweetheart Jemma in 2007 and publicly revealed he was gay two years later - just one of a handful of professional sportspeople to do so.
He told the BBC at the time he hoped he had paved the way for young gay rugby players of the future to come out and be accepted as a "talented gay rugby player".
After playing for Cardiff and Bridgend, in 2010 Thomas switched codes from rugby union to Wrexham-based Super League club Crusaders. He announced his retirement in October 2011.
A host of people from the world of music, sport and TV will raise funds on Saturday at the Celtic Manor resort in aid of The Gareth Thomas Foundation for Music and Sport.'Heroes'
"We want to raise a lot of money," he said.
"We help 200 kids a month. It's music and sport that's an influence in any child's life. Heroes are always from sport or music."
The foundation aims to help disadvantaged youngsters by providing them with free music tuition and sports coaching as well as giving them access to instruments and equipment.
Thomas has even supplied his old team, Pencoed RFC, with a kit.
Music and sport have played a significant part in Thomas' life.
"I've always found music and sport inspirational, I would always listen to music to get pumped up before a game or to relax after. It was always dance music before a game," he says.
End Quote Gareth Thomas
It's not about getting papped and drinking champagne - it's about supporting these people”
The foundation costs £60,000 a year to run and Thomas and his team want to raise enough to cover the next two years.
It plans to open shops in London, Bridgend and Cardiff.
Rourke, presenter Gethin Jones, singer Dane Bowers, actor Tom Ellis - best known for the BBC's Miranda show - and his actress wife Tamzin Outhwaite have been confirmed as guests at the gala event.
But Thomas insists the night is all about the children.
"It's not about getting 'papped' and drinking champagne - it's about supporting these people," he says.
Youngsters on the bill include the recently signed band Rookz, from Llanelli, and Chris King, who contacted Thomas after writing a song about his life.
"It's called True (Alfie)," Thomas says.
"He'd really like it in the film. I was really touched. I really got where the song is going. It's going to be played to Mickey (Rourke) on Saturday night. It's unbelievable, really powerful.
Working hard for his charity and a movie of his life in the pipeline, Thomas' life has undergone several changes in the last few years.
Earlier this year he entered Channel 5's Celebrity Big Brother house and took third place. He also made a cameo appearance in an episode of the comedy Stella, written by Ruth Jones.'Man's game'
More recently, he took part in S4C's cariad@iaith where he had to learn Welsh in a week.
Harking back to his days on the field, Thomas admits he "didn't really cope" with the conflict of his rugby captain persona and homosexuality in a "man's game".
"It was all a process. And as life went on, the more I wanted to have a life outside rugby. I had to be honest about who I was," he says.
"I don't find it difficult now. Sometimes there's someone who doesn't know about my past and just assumes I'm straight," he laughs.
"But people go through that every day, in work, in school, it happens.
"When I look back it's all for a reason, it's made me the person I am now."