One thing becomes quickly evident the first time you meet actor Michael Rooker: The man is a practical joker of the highest degree. And no one is safe from being punked by the man formerly known as Merle on [The Walking Dead](series:201193) and now currently known as Yondu in [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) - not even Guardians director James Gunn.
I asked Rooker about having previously worked with Gunn on Super and whether or not that played a part in him landing the role of Yondu. As it turns out, it was probably more stressful on Gunn than it ever was on Rooker himself...
You guys have known each other for awhile. Did he cast you as Yondu because of that friendship and previous connection?
He had mentioned that he was doing this, and said, “I’m going to write you a role into this,” and I just went, “Cool! Okay, great! Do it!” I don’t even know if he knew at that point what it was going to be. They were going through the script where things weren’t working, they needed another character and he knew that was the role he wanted me to do but I was filming The Walking Dead and the production dates were completely conflicting times. So then he asks me if I would take a smaller role, and of course I will!
But then lo and behold, about three quarters through the Walking Dead I found out that I’m going to die! I’m dyin’! They’re going to kill me two times in one episode. They really don’t want me to come back. [laughing]
Even though you did once! Well...kinda. Did you go straight to James to sign up then?
Well, they were like, “Don’t tell anyone, it’s top secret.” So of course I hang up with Glen Mazzara and immediately call James. And I'm like, “Dude, guess what? I just can’t do that small role, man. It’s just too small. Man, I’m in the biggest TV show in the world. I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I have to say no. I can’t do it.”
He was very gracious, he understood. Then I let him stew for a minute or so, you know, and I go, “But I can do that other role, the bigger role.” He was like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” and I told him I was going to die and all this stuff. He was like, “Ahh those fuckers killed you off? That sucks! But YAAAAAY!” So I got him good.
It was beautiful. The timing absolutely just worked. The character is just this perfect combination. It just fit. It just fit right into production and the script he was thinking about doing, all of that stuff.
So basically, the moral of the story is, always assume Michael Rooker is playing a joke on you. Always.
[Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) is in theaters NOW. If you haven't bought a ticket yet, what are you waiting for?