Michael Rooker undergoes an excellent physical transformation to play Yondu in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but fans of “The Walking Dead” will see a familiar character behind the blue skin and the metal mohawk. According to Rooker, director James Gunn wanted Yondu to have a dash of Merle Dixon mixed in.
“Gunn wrote the role with me [in mind],” Rooker tells Zap2it. Apparently Gunn pitched the character as a “combination of Michael Rooker, Yondu and Merle, all mixed together,” and Rooker was intrigued.
“You know how Merle is. I could call you some name or do something really dumb and stupid and mean, but you still kind of like me,” Rooker says. “Yondu’s the same way. I think people are going to get that. They’re going to like the character, but he’s not the friendliest guy.”
Rooker and Gunn have been friends for nearly a decade, and the former “Walking Dead” star says Gunn was a fan of his even before he cast Rooker in his 2006 horror movie “Slither.” “We’ve been buddies ever since,” Rooker says.
Though Yondu is one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, he plays a different role in the film. Yondu is a mentor of sorts for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and Rooker describes his character as “a very tough-love kind of guy.” Though none of the other original Guardians show up in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Rooker hasn’t found that to be a cause for concern for fans.
“Most of the tweets are wondering if Yondu’s going to have his mohawk — the fin — and if he’s going to have the bow and arrow,” Rooker says. Gunn gave his own spin on Yondu’s weapon, and it’s been distilled into one very cool arrow. “It’s a great weapon,” Rooker gushes.
With Rooker’s background in television, Yondu would be the perfect “Guardians” character to crossover into the “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” TV series. Rooker says he would “do almost anything” for Marvel, and it’s just a matter of finding time in his schedule to make another Yondu appearance. “I would not be opposed to that,” he says.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” hits theaters on Aug. 1.