01/21/2010 AT 6:20 PM ET
A year after his emotional comeback performance earned him a Golden Globe for The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke was once again on cloud nine at this year’s show, thanks to the new love he squired down the red carpet.
Rourke’s girlfriend – who has widely been misidentified on the Internet – is Russian-born model Anastassija Makarenko, Rourke reveals exclusively to PEOPLE. “She’s a gift from heaven,” says the actor, 57, who seemed smitten as he kept a tight grip the stunning blonde throughout the evening.
“Obviously she’s a very beautiful woman,” says Rourke. “But she’s got the biggest heart, she’s got a great family, she’s really close to her mother and father – they’re great people.”
The pair, who both live in New York and met at a photo shoot, have been together about six months. But it’s already serious: Rourke recently gave Makarenko a Pomeranian (named Tango), and in December he traveled to Germany to meet her parents.
Though the consummate on-screen tough guy admits he was nervous, “They loved him,” says Makarenko, adding, “He’s the most beautiful man in the world, he’s a sweetheart, and the best boyfriend.”
Rourke, whose upcoming projects include Iron Man 2 and Passion Play with Megan Fox, wouldn’t comment on whether he and Makarenko are – or will become – engaged. All he would say is: “I wouldn’t trade her in for 20 Academy Awards.”