Barbara Walters with Mickey Rourke Photo by: Craig Sjodin / ABC
Mickey Rourke: My Dogs Saved My Life
Mickey Rourke, who thanked his dogs during his Golden Globes best actor acceptance speech, says his pooches received a shout-out for one simple reason: They were there for him during his darkest hour more than a decade ago.

"I sort of self-destructed and everything came out about fourteen years ago or so ... the wife had left, the career was over, the money was not an ounce," Rourke, 56, reveals during the Oscar night edition of The Barbara Walters Special, of which PEOPLE has an exclusive preview. "The dogs were there when no one else was there."

But the star of The Wrestler says his split from ex-wife, actress-model Carre Otis, 40, further exacerbated his personal turmoil. "What happened was, I was not in a really good place in my head and my heart, and I think when the wife left, it all came down and I didn't want to be here."

But when asked by Walters if, at the time, he was suicidal, Rourke said, "Look, there's always a weak way out. I've always known that. Yeah, I didn't want to be here, but I didn't want to kill myself. I just wanted to push a button and disappear."

And at the point, Rourke turned to his dogs.

"I think I hadn't left the house for four or five months, and I was sitting in the closet, sleeping in the closet for some reason, and I was in a bad place, and I just remember I was thinking, 'Oh, man, if I do this,' " he tells Walters. "And then I looked at my dog, Lowjack, and he made a sound, like a little almost human sound. I don't have kids, the dogs became everything to me. The dog was looking at me going, 'Who's going to take care of me?' "

Check out Rourke's family of little dogs