Michael Rooker has been a journeyman actor for almost 30 years appearing in a wide variety of TV shows and films. None of that work has brought Rooker a tenth of the attention the 59-year-old actor has been getting since he joined the cast of “The Walking Dead.” That attention will get ramped up even more as he stars in the latest big screen comic book-inspired offering, “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
It’s hard to know which group is more rabid: “Dead” fans or comic book movie lovers. Either way, the combination is huge.
As for being part of another big franchise, Rooker smiles and says, “Why not?! Why not?!”
He wasn’t looking to legions of fans when he took on the role of Yondu in “Guardians.” He just liked the character who is an interstellar bandit with a love/hate relationship with the Guardians, especially Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Rooker doesn’t even think about how big a project will be until he has landed the role.
“You do what you do best. The chips will fall where they may. People dig it. They don’t dig it. They get it. They don’t get it. It doesn’t matter to me. I just do the job the best I can,” Rooker says.
Just like “The Walking Dead,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” is based on a series of comic books. In both cases, the comics didn’t provide a lot of help in playing the role. His “Dead” character was created for the TV series and Yondu has gone through multiple changes during the various runs of “Guardians.
Both franchises have put Rooker through makeup challenges. It took three hours daily to transform Rooker into the blue-skinned Yondu. The makeup work he went through to play the zombie Merle wasn’t quite as time consuming.
The death of Merle Dixon upset and surprised a lot of “Walking Dead” fans. It was also a surprise to Rooker when he was told three weeks before the episode filmed that Merle would be a walking dead. Rooker believes there’s a lot more Merle could have added to the story but is happy with the way the character met his end.
“My only big thing was that Merle came in an ass kicker and he should go out an ass kicker,” Rooker says. “That made a great arc.”
As for future work as Yondu, Rooker says he would be glad to come back to the role again and again. He says it’s up to the legions of fans to make the movie enough of a hit that more will be made.