One thing you’ve got to know about talking to Michael Rooker one-on-one is he’s scary. The aviator sunglasses he wore weren’t helping either. Seriously though, underneath that gruff exterior is funny and charming man who has now found himself at the center of the nerd universe thanks to roles in AMC’s The Walking Dead and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In our brief chat at the National Fan Expo Friday, Rooker discussed which franchise is winning the autograph wars, how he’s a nerd with muscles and how a little Yondu does a long way.
Nerd Bastards: I did a very unscientific survey downstairs yesterday and it looked like your line for autographs was the longest consistently, so how are you enjoying your new status as a nerd icon?
Michael Rooker: I’ve always been a little nerd/geeky kind of guy except I have muscles and nobody f**ks with me.
Nerd Bastards: With The Walking Dead and now with Guardians of the Galaxy, is there any one show people are coming to you about more?
Michael Rooker: You know what, I just came from Wizard World in Chicago, and already on the first day [of Fan Expo] it was like 50-50. Guardians of the Galaxy has come up so quickly that it’s now overtaking the Walking Dead fans. But the thing is, the fans for The Walking Dead are the same fans that go see Guardians. Now its sort of like, “What should I do? Do I want a Guardians of the Galaxy mini-poster, or a Merle Dixon photo from The Walking Dead.” And sometimes they get both, and sometimes they choose, and its been about 50/50.
Nerd Bastards: Speaking of Guardians, even when it was shooting Marvel was a brand name people were learning to trust, so did you have an idea how big Guardians was going to be when you were shooting it last summer?
Michael Rooker: Well, you know it’s going to be big, but you don’t really know how something’s going to come out, but people are responding. They love the CGI stuff, and they love characters. My guy comes out in really high numbers when they come out of the theater, they love Yondu, he’s like one of their favorite characters with Groot and Rocket. We’re getting really good responses. People are digging it, and that’s what it’s all about. The bottom line is if the fans are going to dig it, and if they’re going to come out and see the movie.
Nerd Bastards: Do you know anything about the sequel yet, and how Yondu will be involved?
Michael Rooker: Well, [director James] Gunn is already in the process of writing that, and he’s already made statements that they’re going to flush out Yondu, and Nebula maybe. The first one is wear you lay the ground work, and that’s what he did so expertly, and he did just enough of Yondu to make people want more, which was awesome for me! That meant my scenes were just so perfectly written and timed out in the editing process that it paid back in the end with the arrow. People were so waiting for that they still clap when it happens. So I’m happy, I’m happy they’re doing a number two and it’s going to be a fun thing for me.