Fast & Furious 9 has cast The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker. Long before becoming one of the most recognizable character actors in movies and on TV, Rooker experienced an early career breakout thanks to his chilling portrayal of a heartless murderer in the notorious 1986 independent film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. After that early breakthrough, Rooker quickly built his resume with roles in everything from Oliver Stone’s JFK to Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder to the Stephen King adaptation The Dark Half.
Known for his menacing presence, Rooker soon settled into a life of playing mostly heavies in supporting roles both on the big screen and small. Rooker’s many roles failed to raise his profile much however and for a time it seemed his career was on the wane, but in recent years the actor has enjoyed a renaissance that can be directly traced to his role as Daryl Dixon's bad guy brother Merle on AMC’s The Walking Dead. After TWD brought him back to prominence, Rooker scored the biggest role of his life playing Star-Lord’s mentor Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
As reported by Deadline, Rooker will now make the jump from the MCU to another multi-billion-dollar global franchise, taking on a role in Fast & Furious 9. A late addition to the cast, Rooker will reportedly play a character named Buddy in the action sequel. No further details have been revealed about the character.
Rooker’s role in Fast & Furious 9 reunites him Vin Diesel, who of course plays the voice of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. Prior to Rooker, the newest Fast & Furious entry also added UFC fighter Francis Ngannou to the cast in an undisclosed role. Adding even more muscle to the film’s cast will be one-time pro wrestling superstar John Cena. Recently, it was also revealed that The Fate of the Furious stars Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren will both return for the latest sequel. Of course, the new movie will also feature long-time regulars Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Jordana Brewster. Not featured in the new movie are Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, who this year branched off from the main series with the hit spinoff film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Johnson and Staham may be gone from Fast & Furious 9, but the movie still has a very impressive cast that now includes Rooker, an actor whose growlingly intense presence should fit in perfectly with Diesel and the rest of the regular family. Rooker is undoubtedly one of those special character actors who improves everything he’s in, and the Fast & Furious franchise is lucky to have him.
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020