Michael Rooker has perfected playing the anti-hero. From a serial killer to a redneck zombie and everything in between, the veteran actor makes even the vilest characters somehow sympathetic. Accordingly, we couldn’t wait to hear about his newest not-so-black-and-white (blue and white?) role as intergalactic biker boss Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The highly anticipated film, which hits theaters on Aug. 1, delves into the Marvel universe to explore the saga of Peter Quill (played by hilarious Chris Pratt) and his charismatic band of outlaws-turned-cosmic superheroes.
The role of Yondu — the fierce blue-skinned, red-eyed alien biker who raises Quill alongside his gang The Ravagers — wasn’t just perfect for Rooker. This version of the character was actually written for him by his friend and the film’s director, James Gunn.
And although it may be hard to imagine a man known for such intimidating characters and general bada**ery gushing over a role, real-life Rooker is unabashedly excited about Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Baby, let me tell you… it’s gonna blow your mind,” Rooker charmingly told us of the movie. “It’s really, really cool and fun. It’s entertaining; it’s exciting; there’s some awesome sequences, and the characters are all just really right there and believable and in your face. It’s all there.”
While audiences won’t have a chance to weigh in for a few more weeks, Rooker is confident fans will love the film as much as he does. And as much, apparently, as his famous friends do.
“I just sat in on a cast and crew’s screening, because I missed the first one, and — man, man, man — it’s so nice to be sitting in the theater with only three people and hear Benicio Del Toro laughing behind you,” Rooker said of his co-star, whom he’s been friends with since they met through a mutual manager “when we were first in LA.”
Like his friend, this isn’t the first time Rooker has dipped his toes into the ever-deepening sea of comic book-based fare — think Mallrats, Stargate SG-1, various DC Showcase shorts and The Walking Dead. So is it safe to deduce he’s personally a big fan of the medium?
“Hey, I’m a fan of any medium that hires Michael Rooker,” he laughed, joking, “You know, the kind that helps pay my mortgage!”
In all seriousness, though, Rooker admitted he does have a long-standing fondness for the genre.
“I’ve always been a big fan of this comic book film thing… the sci-fi, the special effects involved, the really cool stuff we can do now that we couldn’t do 20 years ago,” he shared. “We can do these films now, and they can look really, really, cool.”
In fact, for a man who always seems so unflappable on-screen, Rooker seemed thoroughly, well, flapped by this subset of the cinema. “The fantasy genre and the sci-fi genre we’re putting up on-screen now is real — I mean, my gosh, it looks so amazing,” he marveled (no pun intended). “The ability of the actors have always been there, but the technology has not always been there. Now the technology is here. It’s now.”
But naturally, we couldn’t speak of the ability of the actors without squeezing in a question about on-set shenanigans with his notoriously funny co-star Pratt.
“Every now and then, something happened but, I tell ya, we were so busy,” he explained. “It was work. It was fun, exciting, creative work, but still… it took, like, five hours just to get camera ready, so you don’t have a lot of time to joke around.”
Still, that’s not to say Rooker and Pratt didn’t raise a little hell from time to time — it just wasn’t necessarily in the way you might imagine.
“When you’ve been working so long and hard, sometimes when something hits your funny bone, you just can’t stop laughing. But when it happens on set, not everybody gets the joke,” he elaborated with a smirk in his voice. “You’ve got the directors and the producers and everybody else standing around with their arms folded, going, ‘What the hell is going on with these guys? Can we get to work here?'”
Those moments proved even funnier after the fact, he confessed, because half the time the thing they couldn’t stop laughing about was something as silly as someone’s shoelaces being untied.
“You know, you’re delirious usually when that kind of thing happens. You’ve already worked a full 14 hours, and anything that happens can cause a complete chaotic breakdown,” Rooker shared.
Delirium aside, however, the raspy-voiced actor was quick to acknowledge he’s always been “a bit of joker” — like, perhaps, his character’s nemesis in his first comic book-oriented film, 1995’s Mallrats.
And since we’ve long been fans of Rooker’s character Svenning in the cult classic, and since we expect to be equally charmed by his turn as Yondu, we’ve gotta know: Can we expect more comic fanfare in his future? Would he consider teaming up with Stan Lee-obsessed writer/director Kevin Smith again, stink-palming be damned?
“That’s an awesome idea!” Rooker said. “Kevin, how ’bout it, buddy? Let’s do it!”