Exclusive: Michael Rooker on ‘The Walking Dead’; Merle NOT The Governor

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 2nd, 2013 at 5:53 am,

Merle The Walking Dead Exclusive: Michael Rooker on The Walking Dead; Merle NOT The Governor

As a character actor, Michael Rooker is something of a hero among big-time cinema buffs. From his first big role as serial killer Henry Lee Lucas in the 1986 film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the actor has popped up in a wide range of films and TV shows over the course of his career, always delivering strong performances.

Today, I had the opportunity to chat with Rooker during a promotional tour in support of James Gunn’s subversive new superhero comedy Super, starring Rooker, Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, and Liv Tyler. I also talked with Rooker about his highly popular role as the racist redneck Merle on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead.

Screen Rant will have the full interview online soon, but we wanted to share some of the juiciest Walking Dead details with you as soon as we could. Read on to learn more about what Michael Rooker and Frank Darabont may have in store for Merle in the upcoming seasons.

When I talked with Rooker, he seemed both surprised and amused by Merle’s popularity among Walking Dead fans. He even mentioned that there’s a viral campaign on the Internet right now to bring his character back in a big way [you can track the #MoMerle movement on Twitter].

Of course, after having him sever his own hand and go through a gut-wrenching four-minute monologue at the beginning of Episode 3, it would seem crazy if Frank Darabont didn’t bring the character back into the story. But how will Merle return to the plot?

Merle Michael Rooker Walking Dead Exclusive: Michael Rooker on The Walking Dead; Merle NOT The Governor

Like Laurie Holden and Jon Bernthal at C2E2, Rooker didn’t know many specifics of the plot for upcoming seasons, but he was able to talk about some of the things he’d like to see happen with Merle – not to mention address fan speculation that the character might take on the role of The Governor from the Walking Dead comic books.

Rooker told me that, as far as he knows, he’s coming back, he just doesn’t know when. When he does come back though, he doesn’t think that he’ll eventually assume the role of The Governor.

“It doesn’t seem like Merle is The Governor. Merle is Merle. I think if I come back, I’m going to be even bigger than The Governor.”

Rooker did acknowledge, however, that there was the potential to merge elements of The Governor’s character from the comic books into Merle’s character on the show.

“My character may end up being some sort of composite of The Governor/Merle/something else. I don’t know. They’re not going to stick to the graphic novels at all. The graphic novels are written wonderfully, but they’re graphic novels. This is little films. This is TV, so it has to be written in that way.”

Rooker said he doesn’t think he’s coming back in the first part of the season, and that he actually thinks it will be better to have the character reappear later.

“I think it’s advantageous for the show to wait a bit…so that when I do come back, when my character does reappear, I think it’s going to be a big deal and there’s going to be hell to pay.”

the walking dead the governor Exclusive: Michael Rooker on The Walking Dead; Merle NOT The Governor

For more info on Merle, check back to Screen Rant for our full interview. In the meantime, let us know when you think Merle should come back into the series, and under what circumstances?

Personally, while I agree with Rooker that Merle will not become The Governor, I do think there is potential for him to have a Governor-like role. Here’s a scenario I can see possibly happening. We know Merle stole the group’s van after they tried to come back into Atlanta to rescue him. Perhaps while driving away from the city, he went to the prison (where there would be medical supplies) to take care of his wound. After dressing his wound, maybe he takes over the group at the prison by force.

Wouldn’t it be something to have Rick and the survivors forced to take shelter in a prison run by Merle? It would definitely be different than the comics, but as Rooker said, the TV show has to be different from the comics in order to succeed. Feel free to share your own possible scenarios in the comments.

The Walking Dead season 2 premieres October 2011.

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  1. I cant wait to see what happens with the second season, and I hope they dont stray to far from the books, but enough for some great surprises. I kinda Hope that the Governor is still his own character and that they come up with something different with Merle, some thing New and not from the books

  2. I love the show but I’ve never read the graphic novels who is this governor character and what is his role in all this? and one more thing is he more powerful than the Governator?

    • There are no Graphic Novels….. ;) Just comics and trade paperbacks.

      The Governor is well a Governor of a small town/settlement. Without giving away to much or possibly spoiling anything:

      The town is run based on fear/muscle. You follow the rules and do your job you get by. They also have entertainment in the aspect of Zombie fights.

      The Gov himself has ae pretty whacked out personality.

      I believe he was running out of space or needed more supplies so when he found out where our characters were staying they butted heads.

      Thats it without giving away anything even though they may not follow what happened in the comics.

      • thanks for clearing that up for me Aknot

  3. I don’t get what people dig about this show besides the title, I found the show to be empty and boring. I hated this series. It was cool to see the characters come to life but you have to admit the writers on the show were terrible, I mean isn’t that why they fired them all at the end of the season? I’m a huge fan of Kirkman’s graphic novel and I did like the first 2 maybe 3 episodes of the show, but i found it hard to follow, maybe because it deviated so far from the comics almost felt like I was watching a very dumbed down version, or a complete rip off.
    Here’s what I thought of TWD,
    -Merle was a cool character.
    -Shane still alive is awful, his presence is pointless and soap opera-ish.
    -People laughing, playing, wife abuse a few days after the apocalypse, doesn’t make sense to me.
    -Hey everyone lets get drunk, not realistic at all, cartoony.
    -Worst plot of all: Self Destructing military lab (so counter productive it’s retarded)
    -Oh yeah, and Laurie Holden looks to old and ugly to play Andrea, should have been the chick who played her sister imo.

    I will not be tuning in to a second season even if it is better than the first. This is just a Fad like Heroes was for all the non-fans. Just me guys, I know I can’t be alone on this. -Now, lets get this stoning over with, lol.

    • -Merle was a cool character.
      Yet wasnt part of the comics. However you stilled liked the character.

      -Shane still alive is awful, his presence is pointless and soap opera-ish.
      Still adds tension to the triangle and can build up to possibly giving a BETTER reason for how he got it in the comics. It was stated no one is safe in the show. While I dont figure we will see Rick bite most others I think within reason are expendable.

      -People laughing, playing, wife abuse a few days after the apocalypse, doesn’t make sense to me.
      It is a common mechanism within humans. You have to keep a semblence of normalcy. As for the wife abuse (no im not calling that normal) people like that regardless of the situation will always be like that. They dont just change. He saw his power over his wife slipping. He had to reinforce his dominance.

      -Hey everyone lets get drunk, not realistic at all, cartoony.
      While I dont drink anymore I can tell you after what they have been through, being malnuroished and not drinking the drinking in a SAFE environment easily turned into getting drunk. Again after what they had been through… oh yeah to relax and tie one on is normal.

      -Worst plot of all: Self Destructing military lab (so counter productive it’s retarded)
      I have to agree with you there. I think they could have wrote it where the Doc just goes bananas destroys some equipment making the building no longer safe. Or prep it for being the place in the comics they found early safe haven.

      -Oh yeah, and Laurie Holden looks to old and ugly to play Andrea, should have been the chick who played her sister imo.
      Andrea was always the eldest and roughest. I think Holden nails her quite well.

      While I do not like them not following the comics (panel by panel) I feel (except for the lab thing) they have done quite well in bringing the story of the people to the small screen.

      I dont understand the Like Heroes was for the nonfans. No TV show or movie regardless of what they say are just made for the fans. It has to appeal to a wider demograph or you wont have a second season/sequel.

      Kind of funny though that you say even if its better you wont watch it…. If its better I would think you would want to watch it?

  4. I hated Merle, nothing more than a racist hick.

    • That’s the point.

  5. “It doesn’t seem like Merle is The Governor.”

    “My character may end up being some sort of composite of The Governor/Merle/something else. I don’t know.”

    How does that equate to:
    “Merle NOT The Governor”

    A quote of:
    Well when Merle comes back he wont be the Governor. or When I reprise my role of Merle the Governor will be my boss. or The Governors role has been given to Danny DeVito.

    Those are Merle NOT the Governor.

    While I am of two minds about the role of the Governor I have yet to see anything concrete to make believe Merle is NOT the Governor, where as a missing appendage hints more towards he is.

    • Yeah but the Governor is missing a limb because of Michonne, not because he cut it off himself. I really doubt that Merle would be the Gov. It just doesn’t fit.

      • Understandable however the show will not follow the comics panel for panel or even book for book.

        So saying it just doesnt fit is like saying the CDC just doesnt fit as it was not in the books.

        There is nothing far fetched about Merle stumbling onto a small settlement that helps him and him somehow helping them bringing him to a power position within that community.

        Then based on the way the group treated him exacting revenge.

        This is much more (IMO) believeable within the context of the TV story then what/how it happened in the books. (not saying either is better)

  6. The Gov lost his arm because of Michonne tho. I just don’t see Merle being the Gov, it doesn’t fit

  7. Merele being the gov is just plain and simple too easy… they got something else planned for him…

    • Again you would be comparing it to the book. To have an audience that has not read the comics try and understand/believe the Gov as we saw him in the books is going to be difficult.

      Regardless if MR is or is not the Gov I think most of the people that want the Gov are going to be disappointed in the way he is portrayed.

      • I have to say I love the graphic novels but I Governor as a full on screen persona would be very risk. It was hard enough reading/viewing some things on the page let alone hearing them for real. Personally I think Mer will come back and be an evil twisted g!t and have elements of the Governor but I hope they are careful. Something’s in the novels can’t be put on screen and some television always needs more fleshing out. Agree that Andrea looks far too old, but then again so does Dale so maybe its just a PC thing. Mer cutting of Rick’s hand also would make sense if they want to go down the route, but like people have stated the show is only based on the Novel. Like most things put on screen from book and history, they wont keep it true. Lets just hope its keeps the great story telling going.

  8. they should have one of those flashback before the starting credits to show daryl and merle before there was zombies