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?
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."
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.