Actor Michael Rooker may be well known for playing eccentric and charismatic characters on-screen but when it comes to his off-screen antics, his fans still can’t help but find still find the actor to be captivating.
This was evident earlier today on the Main Stage of New York Comic Con as Rooker participated in an hour-long Q&A where the actor discussed playing the role of the space pirate Yondu Udonta in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and as the brash hillbilly Merle Dixon in AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Rooker told the crowd at the Q&A that it was Merle Dixon’s boisterous and rowdy personality that piked his interested in joining the cast of The Walking Dead:
“When the casting person described that to me, that’s why I wanted to do the role,” Rooker said. “She said ‘and this, and that, and he’s such an ass, he cuts his own hand off,’ and I’m like, ‘whoa, whoa. He does what? I want to do that role! I like that guy already!’”
However, Rooker revealed that he nearly lost out on his iconic role in The Walking Dead all due to a 19-year-long grudge that one of the show’s producers harbored towards him:
“She goes, ‘ah, yeah, but there’s… there’s one little issue.’ And I said, ‘what? It’s not an offer?’ And she goes, ‘nah… the producers have a hard-on for you.’ And I’m thinking, it’s not a good one. I said, ‘well, what do I do to change their mind?’ She said, ‘dude, I don’t know. But something happened like years ago, and he still has some issues.’ And I’m going, ‘what was it? I don’t remember, what did I do to him?’ And I won’t get into the whole story, but something had happened, and I pulled out of a project, and it was their project, and it was like there was this grudge sort of held for a long time since, and I didn’t know that.”
Rooker knew he couldn’t possibly miss out on the role of a lifetime as he eventually decided to pen a letter that explained his actions to the producer of the show which in turn gave him a second chance at winning the role of Merle Dixon:
“The producer read the letter, and I was a good writer, he believed my letter, he believed it. He believed it because it was true! And so hence, I ended up having a second chance at getting the role of Merle Dixon, and I ended up getting the role of Merle Dixon because I was able to explain myself from like, maybe 19 years ago — that far back. 19 years ago something had happened and there was a grudge being held for 19 years, and I did not know anything about it. And I finally found out, and then I explained myself through a letter via the casting director, and I ended up being able to do The Walking Dead.”
Considering how close Rooker was in almost losing the role, it’s simply hard to imagine the character of Merle Dixon being played by anybody else. Thankfully, all it took was for the actor to bury the hatchet in order for him to nab the role of one of The Walking Dead’s most memorable antagonists.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Austin Nichols, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Tom Payne, Austin Amelio, Xander Berkeley, Pollyanna McIntosh, Steven Ogg, and Katelyn Nacon.
The Walking Dead season eight premieres on October 22, 2017, on AMC.