Guardians of the Galaxy: Michael Rooker on Yondu’s Fin
There’s only one Michael Rooker. The star of the genre classics Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Tombstone has been experiencing a career renaissance of late, thanks in large part to roles in the hit TV series “The Walking Dead” and the various films of James Gunn, who has cast him three times to date in Slither, Super and his new Marvel Studios space opera Guardians of the Galaxy. And although Michael Rooker plays an alien mercenary named Yondu, with blue skin, a red head implant and an arrow he controls by whistling, he’s still the same guy audiences have come to know and love.
Wait a minute, a head implant? Didn’t Yondu used to have a big red fin on his head in the comic books? Well, he almost had one in the movie too, according to our interview with Michael Rooker about Guardians of the Galaxy. He also reveals which movie props made it onto his souvenir shelf, which Yondu moment got cut from the finished film, and the correct way to bob for apples, because why not?
Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now.
CraveOnline: I’m a huge fan of yours, so this is super cool.
Michael Rooker: Oh sweet, sweet!
Henry: Portrait of a Killer changed my life.
Oh yeah, should have been a musical.
It really should have been.
It would have been a musical! If it had been up to me, it would have been a musical.
I’m picturing how that would go now…
It would go great! I’d sing as I chopped your head off. [Sings.] “I looooove youuuu… Da-dun-dun…!”
I can see it as an opera. A light opera.
Yeah, Sweeney Todd or something like that, you know?
That’d be pretty great.
That’s it! I’m taking it to Broadway!
Done! And you can write, “This is where it happened.”
I’m honored. That would be my claim to fame.
Tony, watch out!
Thank you for that, Michael Rooker.
Thank you. I’ll thank you on the podium.
So you’ve made a lot of movies with James Gunn by this point. Is it just sort of understood that you’ll be in his movies? Like, “Good news, I’m making a movie!” “I’m in it, right…?”
[Laughs.] Let’s hope so! That’s awesome! “So, you doing a movie?” “Oh, sorry Rooker. No, man.” “What do you mean? What do you MEAN?!” That day hasn’t happened but I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.
And the feud would begin.
I’ll be so sad. I’ll be heartbroken.
Did he specifically say he’d written Yondu for you?
Yeah, yeah. That was a situation that he just wanted to write this role for me in the project, and it just so happened that there was some element in the script that wasn’t really working…
Nothing that can’t be fixed by Michael Rooker!
This is exactly what I need! This is the perfect, the perfect fit.
Did he know you were an amazing whistler?
[Laughs.] He had no idea. You didn’t even know I was that good yet.
I had no idea as well. Michael Rooker has many hidden talents.
You didn’t know my whistling could do that, did you?
No, I didn’t know. Some people just have trouble whistling. And you can make the world move.
I can do anything. I have a powerful whistle. That whistle has been good for Yondu since 1969 as a matter of fact.
He whistled in the old version of Yondu.
Did you know anything about Yondu before the movie?
I did. I did.
He’s considered something of an obscure character to some people.
I loved Guardians of the Galaxy growing up…
I did too!
Yeah, I was a fan but I found out… “Wait, these are obscure characters? Really?” People are weird about it.
Well you know what happens. They get caught up in Spider-Man, they get caught up in their things, that’s what they like. But I moved around as a kid. I liked different comics. […] I liked the pictures. I read a little bit. Mostly the story was told by the panels and that’s what I dug. It really helped me because I’m not the greatest reader. I’ve got a little dyslexia going on. My both eyes are dominant, seemed to be, and they’re fighting each other. They’re just fighting, it’s like all of a sudden one eye is dominant and then the other one takes over throughout a passage. It could really screw you up as a kid just learning to read and stuff like that. So the images, the panels, the artist’s stuff really helped to bridge the gap.
That and Playboy.
Because you read it for the articles.
And there’s pictures. [Laughs.]
With Yondu. Oh my god, I want to see a Playboy interview with Yondu.
A Playboy interview with Yondu, oh my god…
With two Xandaran girls, just going, “Hey…”
Green girls with tails, you know. Big horns.
Is that the dream?
Well, you’ve got to hold those horns, man.
Oh my god! [Laughs.]
You know, those Xandaran girls they can get aggressive. They’ll kill ya. You’ve got to be careful.
Tell me about Yondu’s knick-knack fetish.
[Laughs.] Wasn’t that beautiful?
That was really cute.
That was beautiful!
Because it’s a throwaway joke and then you realize… “Oh, that’s adorable!” Instantly he goes from, “I don’t know if we can trust this guy” to “Oh, Yondu’s cool.”
I know! My little blue frog. Oh my god, I’ve got to tell you, that scene was cut a little bit but not too much. It was pretty good, but there was more frog.
Was he playing with it?
I was looking at it, and there was a line in there that I really truly miss. I’m looking at it and I’m looking and all of a sudden I crack up and I’m like, “Hahahaha! Look at it! Its eyes move, right?! It looks like it’s lookin’ at ya… It follows you around, don’t it? Look at it, it just follows you around there.” So it was hilarious. It was funny shit.
Did you get to keep that frog?
Yes, I have the frog.
Awesome. Where do you keep it?
I have a little shelf where I keep all my stuff.
That’s really cool. Like your souvenirs?
What other souvenirs do you have? What did you keep?
I got stuff from “The Walking Dead,” I got stuff from other movies… “The Walking Dead” has a lot. People bring me all sorts of gifts.
Did you get to keep your prosthetic hand?
I got some stuff…
Did you keep anything from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer?
I do! I have my entire wardrobe.
Really? That’s so cool!
I have the jacket. I just don’t understand why the jacket doesn’t fit anymore. I don’t get it! [Laughs.]
Is it leather? Maybe it shrank or something?
Did I get bigger? I don’t know. No, it’s not leather. It’s that working cloth, that carpenter… It’s like a carpenter’s jacket. But I have that. I have the shoes but I think they’re in Chicago. I got wardrobe from all kinds of different movies.
Do you still wear the wardrobe or is it just for presentation purposes?
No, I wore the wardrobe once for Halloween one time, [the wardrobe for] Tombstone. I have the wardrobe. I have the leather jacket thing and I have the boots and all that stuff.
That’s really cool.
That’s really cool. I got to dress up like Sherman McMasters again for a party. Can you just see Sherman McMasters bobbing for apples?
Yes! Did you actually bob for apples in that costume?
“Here, can you hold my pistols?!” [Laughs.]
I’ve never actually bobbed for apples before.
They’re really hard to do.
It seems like it would be hard.
You’ve got to attack the apple. I spear the apple with my tooth. [Demonstrates.] And then I can get it.
Spear the apple with your tooth…
You’ve got to go at it and like stick your tooth right in it.
Do you have to come at them from an angle? Because they’re in water, so the second you hit them they’re just going to move away, right?
If you actually have an underbite you would be ready…
No, the other way.
[Adjusts jaw again.]
Yeah, you just smack it down and you’ve got the apple.
If I ever bob for apples and I do well, I’m going to say “Michael Rooker taught me that.”
But yeah, yeah I got where that.
You’re going to do Guardians of the Galaxy 2, right? [Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted before the official announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.]
Is there going to be a 2? [Laughs.]
It’s clear that they want to do a sequel if this does well.
Yeah, it’s clear.
So you’d be down, right? We haven’t seen the last of Yondu, hopefully?
Dude, I would do Guardians of the Galaxy 12 if they made that many.
Would you skip 2-11? Yondu comes back just for 12?
No, no. I’d do 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, all the way through. Yeah. I would, yeah. That would be really cool.
Going back to Yondu, you didn’t have the full fin.
I didn’t have the full fin.
Did they tell you that you might?
They never told me I might. In my imagination, when I found out I was going to do it and all the timing and everything worked out, I was like, “Wow.” Nobody had ever talked about it, and I was like, “How are they going to do that fin?” You know? And then I find out that it’s… They really had a whole wig piece that they were going to use as the fin, so that’s what the makeup and wardrobe/hair people had going. And then of course they found out that, no, we’re not going to do the fin.
Guess who has the hairpiece?
Michael Rooker has the hairpiece.
Ta-daaaaaaa! I do have the hairpiece.
I think that when Yondu gets really excited about something it just sort of springs up.
Yeah, he breaks into The Collector’s lair and he sees all these knick-knacks, and then it springs out.
It just comes out?
“I’m going to steal all of these…”
I think a lot of people thought the Mohawk that I have was like a marker, a digital marker of some kind.
Like an unfinished visual effect or something.
That’s what I think a lot of tweets, people online were coming up with.
They have all theories.
They had a lot of theories. But I found out that it looks like it’s…
It looks cool!
Gunn says it’s been implanted. I thought it was growing from [his head].
Yeah, I just assumed that’s what your species looked like.
I think it was coming out of my skull, so it was interesting. Very cool.
Maybe we’ll find out in a sequel?
You never know, do you? You never know.