ann hale conducts a ‘hands’-on interview with the veteran actor and star of the walking dead…
I was nervous approaching Michael Rooker for my interview. This was Henry Lee Lucas, the unfeeling, no conscience killer in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This was Merle Dixon, the redneck racist that was so nasty that he cut off his own hand when he was left chained on a roof top in The Walking Dead.
I was shaking when I shook his hand. Only two inches taller than me at 5′ 10″, I felt like he was seven feet tall. He didn’t smile or anything. He stood military style with his legs spread and arms behind his back. He wore a black baseball hat that cast a menacing shadow across his eyes, making him appear even more frightening.
Rooker seemed cold, which made me nervous. His face stayed hard and he didn’t make any eye contact while he answered the first question I stammered out:
Pop-Break: Is Merle really dead? I mean, can we ever expect to see him again?
Michael Rooker: I’ll be back this season. I don’t have any issue of saying that. I’ll be back this season but I cant say when or anything like that but I will admit that the Merle character will reappear sometime in Season 3.
A smile slowly stretched across his face and I realized that his hardened exterior was him messing with me to make me nervous…something I would find was very much his personality. I immediately loosened up.
PB: You’re messing with me! haha
MR: (smiling) Well…
PB: Geez…you’re good haha… sigh …so Merle WILL be back??
MR: Would you like that?
PB: I’m getting interviewed? (laughs) Absolutely! I have read places that you were coming back and some places that you weren’t but hearing it from you feels incredible!
MR: So you liked Merle?
PB: I won’t lie to you, he was my favorite character in the first season. You play such an amazing villain. Actually, I hate to use the word villain…you’re an amazing antagonist.
MR: I’m a bit villainous. A bit sardonic with an attitude.
PB: Exactly! The show has been missing you. You brought something that no other character had. I feel they tried to fill your void with Shane and it was unsuccessful.
MR: Oh yeah. Shane got … insane. Merle is not insane. He is an asshole but definitely not insane. Big difference.
PB: With how resourceful and outdoor educated as Daryl is and him saying that he learned everything from Merle, I felt there was no way that Merle was dead. He would have found a way out of Atlanta.
PB: Merle is even more resourceful! He is most definitely alive and will be back in season 3, so you better prepare! (a huge grin creeping across his face).
PB: Oh man, evil grin! Your evil grin just gave me goosebumps!
He pulls me close, grabs my arm, holds it up and yells to everyone:
MR: LOOK AT THIS ARM! GOOSEBUMPS! I GAVE HER GOOSEBUMPS!!!
AH: It reminded me of Henry! Terrifying!
MR: Oh yeah! Thats understandable. Henry was rough (laughs).
AH: Guess I should think of Slither … you were hilarious!
MR: Thanks!!! That was an awesome role. I really enjoyed that one. I got to be scary, mean and funny all at once.
AH: Not to repeat myself but I really would have to say that you are the best villain in films. Again, hate to use that word but you just are.
MR: Thank you so much! I’m that someone you love to hate … love to love and then hate yourself for loving me. (laughs) Yep, it happens. Merle has that way with women.
At this point, he winks at me and give me a smile that forced me to fan myself with my press pass. This entertains him immensely.
PB: Dear God…you made me forget my question…
MR: I think you were going to ask me why I was holding this severed hand! (evil grin again).
He holds up a severed hand in a pool of fake plastic blood. The hand is in a fist with the exception of the middle finger, which is standing at attention.
PB: I was? haha Well then, please, tell me about your hand.
MR: My buddies and I figured that this is the way Merle would have really wanted to leave his hand there on the rooftop, stuck in a pool of blood, for the next person to find it, just like that. So we did this whole hand and we are having a lot of fun taking pictures with it and the fans are enjoying it.
PB: This is your hand? Like, actually your hand for the mold?
MR: Oh yeah. I had so much fun making it (laughs).
PB: After meeting you, I have a hard time believing that you can play such a jerk. You’re such a nice guy!!
MR: You never know. Sometimes I can be bad … mean (huge grin again) but not often. Man, you’re sweet. I’m glad you came and talked to me!
PB: Mr. Rooker, this was a huge honor. I really cant wait to see season three now!
MR: I’ll be there if you will (winks)
Once again, I lose all thought and am forced to fan myself.
Season 3 of The Walking Dead will premiere this fall. Keep your eyes open for the man you love to hate, Merle Dixon, as there is no doubt his return will be a triumphant one.