Heroes and Villains Fan Fest: Michael Rooker Interview
By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)
Michael Rooker is a bit of a smart-ass, but I say that in the nicest way possible.
During our interview at Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in Atlanta, it was hard to get a straight answer out of him, but during his 30 years in the acting business, he has learned how to keep things light while also providing as little information as he can. How else would he keep fans on their toes and wanting more than with such teases?
Rooker is a very busy actor, and during our chat, we talked about his former projects and discussed a few tidbits from his upcoming movies, Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 and The Belko Experiment. Here’s a helpful hint: read most of his answers in a sarcastic tone.
Why is it important for you to participate in cons and give back to the fans like this?
It’s not important at all! [Laughs]
If you were going to a con as a fan, who would you cosplay as?
I’d cosplay as Michael Rooker. Throw on my Guardians of the Galaxy t-shirt, jeans, and there you go.
You’ve filmed multiple projects here in Atlanta.
What are some of your favorite moments or highlights from your time here?
Guardians of the Galaxy, the last go-round of that. And then The Walking Dead, we filmed that down there in Senoia…
Yeah, what were some of the fun things you did while you were here?
I worked all the time! No fun stuff for me! I never had fun.
So you’re all work and no play?
All work. Totally all work.
Well I know James Gunn fought for you for the role of Yondu. What did it mean to you to have someone advocate for you like that?
He’s my champion. I love the guy. We get along very well. His work is very much in tune with mine. So what he writes, it usually ends up being up something that we work together on.
Yeah, I know y’all have worked together multiple times.
Yeah, we’ve worked together several times.
So what is that relationship like? What is it like to be directed by such a good friend?
He’s my buddy so we kind of have an understanding. At times, he just lets me go, and I do my own thing –
Because he trusts you?
Because he trusts me. I mean, he can always cut it out in the end. I’ll call him and he’ll be in the middle of editing and I’ll say, “How am I looking?” and he’ll say, “You look fine, you’re all over the film!”
What were some of the most influential materials – comics, etc. – in crafting your interpretation of Yondu?
I started from the comic and as soon as I got through the comic, [James] goes, “We’re gonna do it a little bit different.” And so I stopped. But you always have to start with a fresh mind, a fresh idea, and don’t come in with preconceived ideas. Look at the script, of course, and you and your director usually have conversations and you usually end up working something out that ends up being great. It’s hopefully great.
Yeah, you and James sort of collaborated in creating Yondu, right?
Yeah, he wrote the character with me in mind, so that made it a little easier.
I’ve heard that your role is bigger in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 than it was in Volume 1.
I’ve heard that, too. But you never know until the end of the day when you see it in theaters. A lot can go on!
He could cut you out!
Right? A lot can go on between now and when the movie comes out!
How did the fact that it’s a bigger role change or evolve your portrayal of Yondu from the first time you played him?
It didn’t change very much. I have a new fin.
Yeah, so it’s pretty cool. I look at it now and I’m like, “Wow, this is really, really awesome.”
Yeah, I know you got into your costume at San Diego Comic Con and went out on stage like that. That whole thing is a process, getting in to hair and makeup!
Average three hours. That’s okay, though. Slither was seven and a half hours.
Woah! But in Guardians, Yondu knows who Peter’s father is and I know that Peter’s parentage is a pretty big part of Volume 2, so what can you say about the role Yondu plays in that storyline?
I figured that would be your answer, but I had to ask. I thought I might catch you off-guard!
You guys [reporters] are so smart because you do that all the time! You always get the inside scoop!
I had to try! I also know there are a number of new Guardians, new actors in the new movie…
I’m breaking news to you!
Right? I had no idea!
So how did they fit in to the dynamic what was the vibe like on and off set?
Good and good.
I was going to say, since it sounds like I’m breaking the news to you that there were new actors on set!
It was good!
Anything else you can tell me?
All was good. I’m blue and my boots were awesome.
You got a new hairstyle, you got new boots…
I got new orthotics that go inside my boots and I looove them. I could stand on my feet all day. The best part of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is that I had my orthotics in my boots! [Laughs]
So what can you tease about your role in The Belko Experiment?
Umm. It’s good. No really, The Belko Experiment is really quite the little movie.
Yeah, it’s been in the works for years, hasn’t it?
Yeah, you know, we’ve already seen it at the Toronto Film Festival so there’s been a lot already written about it. It’s quite the little piece and I really enjoyed doing it.
It was a good experience?
Yeah, I really enjoyed it. We were down in Bogota, Colombia. We had a great time.
You talked about Walking Dead earlier. As a former cast member, what do you think about the direction the show is going in?
I think it’s going in the direction it should go in.
I mean, the violence has increased tenfold.
I wish the violence had been like that when I was there! I love violence! I love violence! Do not take my violence away! No, I mean, it’s a violent piece, it’s a horror story and it’s based off a graphic novel, operative word “graphic,” so you’ve got to know that going in. They were a little more soft in the beginning because they were a little more worried about how people were going to take the show, but whether it’s good or bad, I think audiences are accepting of the different scenarios that are going on. They’re just going to play it out, so that’s good. The characters are great, the actors are doing an awesome job. Too bad I’m not there. I wouldn’t mind going back and doing some stuff. But I died two times in one episode, I can take a hint!
Check out teaser trailers for Rooker’s upcoming projects, The Belko Experiment and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, below: