Wizard World Austin 2013 – Michael Rooker

During Wizard World Austin, everyone’s favorite “old pal Merle” held his own panel……..and everybody was thrilled to see him. Michael Rooker walked out on stage to a thunderous wave of applause. His portrayal of the brother we loved to hate (and then loved again) Merle Dixon, on AMC’s worldwide mega hit The Walking Dead, earned him an army of fans. The cool part is that Rooker has had roles before that helped generate this loyal army. He’s had several incarnations in his career such as a baseball player in Eight Men Out, a crazy father in Mallrats, a mountain climber in Cliffhanger, and a gunfigthting cowboy in Tombstone. 

I have to admit, Michael Rooker’s panel was like hanging out and having a cold beer with old buddy. First, he strolled up on the stage while taking photos of the crowd and announced that he pretty much likes handling the moderating himself. This gave way to a very casual, loose, and fun one one one with the actor. He talked about what it was like when he found out where his role in TWD was heading, doing voice-over work in video games, and his preference on working on films versus television, and yes…..he  b-r-i-e-f-l-y mentioned his place in Marvel’s upcoming space epic Guardians of the Galaxy, Enjoy the panel photos below and catch a few highlights!

Click on any of the images below to bring up a larger version.

*Special thanks to Ervin Llanera for lending us his photography skills


  • Probably the biggest topic and question on the crowd’s mind was how Rooker felt about the direction Merle’s role went. Without giving anything away for those that aren’t caught up with TWD, let me just mention he said he had a large amount of input on the scripts dealing with Merle at the key moment. It was important to him. He loved character and said he wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was bittersweet but he enjoyed working with “just about everybody.” Classic Merle.
  • On doing voice work in Call of Duty: Black Ops and a few others, the actor said he had a blast and he’d do it again if asked. He’s a fan of video games and loves how passionate gaming fans are. At this point, nothing is in the works for him in the video game world. We need to remedy that.
  • When asked about being cast as Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, Rooker was somewhat tight-lipped as you might expect, although he did say he loved being able to work with friend and director James Gunn again. He didn’t really have that much knowledge of the outer space super team before but he did end up getting some research in.
  • Favorite Michael Rooker question and response:

Q: “Do you prefer doing movies or TV and why?”

MR: “I prefer whichever one pays me the most and that’s why.”


For now, Michael Rooker is probably savoring any downtime he can get. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is currently in post-production right now so he’s pretty much on lockdown we’re sure. What follows next will be the marketing machine for the film which means lots of traveling, press, and appearances. And that’s fine by us…..we’d be elated to see Rooker, along with entire cast of Guardians, at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 in full costume.

About Steve

Co-founder of Nerd Fu, mild-mannered artist, gamer, movie aficionado, SDCC disciple.

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