Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker (born April 6, 1955)[1] is an American actor known for his roles as Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Chick Gandil in Eight Men Out (1988), Frank Baily in Mississippi Burning (1988), Terry Cruger in Sea of Love (1989), Rowdy Burns in Days of Thunder (1990), Bill Broussard in JFK (1991), Hal Tucker in Cliffhanger (1993), Sherman McMaster in Tombstone (1993), Jared Svenning in Mallrats (1995), Detective Howard Cheney in The Bone Collector (1999), Grant Grant in Slither (2006), Merle Dixon in AMC's The Walking Dead (2010–2013), Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), and the animated series What If...? (2021), and Savant in The Suicide Squad (2021).

Michael Rooker
Michael Rooker (49645306596).jpg
Rooker at GalaxyCon Richmond in 2020
Born (1955-04-06) April 6, 1955 (age 67)
EducationDePaul University (BFA)
Years active1986–present
Margot Rooker
(m. 1979)
Michael Rooker signature.svg

Since 2006, he has been a frequent collaborator of filmmaker James Gunn, and has appeared in all five films Gunn has directed so far.

Early lifeEdit

Rooker was born in Jasper, Alabama. He has nine brothers and sisters. His parents divorced when he was 13, and he moved with his mother and siblings to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Wells Community Academy High School and studied at the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University.[2][3][4]


He made his film debut in 1986, playing the title role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, based on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.[5] He was acting in a play when the play's director, who was going to do the prosthetics for Henry, told him about the role. Rooker did not care if the script was good or bad; he just wanted to act in a film as it would "challenge" him.[6] Henry was a critical success and Rooker received more film roles.

He was given more dramatic roles in films such as Eight Men Out, Mississippi Burning, and JFK, but he became widely known for his roles in action and thriller films such as Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, Cliffhanger,[7] and Tombstone.[8] He also starred in Mallrats, Rosewood, The 6th Day, Slither, Jumper, Super[9] and Hypothermia.[10][11]

In June 2010, he revealed via Twitter that he was to appear in the AMC television series The Walking Dead as Merle Dixon, one of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. He guest-starred in two episodes of the first season and one of the second season before becoming a series regular for the third season.[12][13]

Rooker is also known for his roles in video games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops (where he played himself), Mike Harper in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in November 2012, and as Merle in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, the video game based on the television series.

He played Yondu in the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn,[14] and reprised it in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).[15] In 2021 he appeared in the action film F9, directed by Justin Lin.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Rooker lives in California with his wife Margot Rooker. They married in 1979 and have two daughters. He practices the Kyokushin style of karate.[1][17]


Rooker at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, in character as Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry Fantasporto Award for Best Actor
Golden Space Needle Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
1987 Light of Day Oogie
Rent-A-Cop Joe
1988 Above the Law Man in bar
Eight Men Out Arnold "Chick" Gandil
Mississippi Burning Frank Bailey
1989 Sea of Love Terry Cruger
Music Box Karchy Laszlo
1990 Days of Thunder Rowdy Burns
1991 JFK Bill Broussard
1993 The Dark Half Sheriff Alan Pangborn
Cliffhanger Ranger Hal Tucker
Tombstone Sherman McMasters
1994 Suspicious Attendant Short film
The Hard Truth Jonah Mantz
1995 Mallrats Jared Svenning
1996 Bastard Out of Carolina Uncle Earle
The Trigger Effect Gary
1997 Song of Hiawatha Bertrand
Rosewood Sheriff Walker
Keys to Tulsa Keith Michaels
Deceiver Kennesaw
Shadow Builder Father Vassey
1998 The Replacement Killers Detective Stan "Zeedo" Zedkov
Brown's Requiem Fritz Brown Also associate producer
Renegade Force Matt Cooper
1999 A Table for One Matt Draper / Dr. Matthew Swan Also co-executive producer
The Bone Collector Captain Howard Cheney
2000 Table One Rowdy
Here on Earth Malcolm Arnold
NewsBreak John McNamara
The 6th Day Robert Marshall
2001 Replicant Detective Jake Riley
2002 Undisputed Captain A.J. Mercker
2003 The Box Detective Stafford
2004 The Eliminator Miles Dawson
2005 Chasing Ghosts Mark Spencer
2006 Repo! The Genetic Opera Repo Man Unreleased short film[18]
Lenexa, 1 Mile Russ
Slither Grant Grant
2007 Whisper Sidney
2008 The Lena Baker Story Randolph County Sheriff
Jumper William Rice
This Man's Life Richard Crummly Short film
2009 Super Capers Judge / Dark Winged Vesper
Penance Mann
The Marine 2 Church Direct-to-DVD
2010 Scott's Dead Mitch Short film
Freeway Killer Detective St. John
Blood Done Sign My Name Defense Attorney Billy Watkins
Cell 213 Ray Clement
DC Showcase: Jonah Hex Red Doc (voice) Short film
Louis Pat McMurphy
Super Abe
2011 Atlantis Down Father / Alien
Mysteria Captain McCarthy
Elwood Condello Short film
2012 The Lost Episode Chris / Dr. Death Also director
Hypothermia Ray Pelletier
2013 Brother's Keeper Chief Carver
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy Yondu Udonta
2016 The Belko Experiment Bud Melks
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Yondu Udonta Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2019 Bolden Pat McMurphy
Brightburn The Big T Cameo
2020 Fantasy Island Damon
Love and Monsters Clyde
2021 F9 Buddy
The Suicide Squad Brian Durlin / Savant
Vivo Lutador (voice)
2022 Corrective Measures Overseer Warden Devlin
White Elephant Gabriel Tancredi
The Out-Laws Agent Oldham Post-production[19]
2023 Fast X  Buddy Post-production
TBA Horizon  Filming


Year Title Role Notes Source
1986 Crime Story Lieutenant Episode: "Pilot"
1988 The Equalizer Bill Whitaker Episode: "No Place Like Home"
1989 Gideon Oliver Det. John Quinn Episode: "Sleep Well, Professor Oliver"
The Edge Deputy Sheriff Television film
L.A. Takedown Bosko Television film
1990 Equal Justice Wallace "Wally" Dalton Episode: "Sugar Blues"
1992 Afterburn Casey "Z" Zankowski Television film
1995 Fallen Angels Babe McCloor Episode: "Fly Paper"
Johnny & Clyde Frank Tennant Television film
1996 Back to Back Bob Malone Television film
2001 The Outer Limits Col. Beckett Episode: "Patient Zero"
Hostage Rescue Team Special Agent Nicholas Roberts Pilot
2002 Jeremiah Major Quantrell Episode: "Firewall"
2003 Tremors Kinney Episode: "Hit and Run"
Lucky Gibby Episode: "Savant"
Stargate SG-1 Col. Edwards Episode: "Enemy Mine"
CSI: Miami Marty Jones Episode: "Dead Zone"
On Thin Ice Hopkins Television film
Saving Jessica Lynch Col. Curry Television film
2004 Skeleton Man Capt. Leary Television film
Las Vegas Marcus Wexler Episode: "Degas Away with It"
2005 Numb3rs Don's Partner Unaired pilot
JAG Capt. Jack Ramsey Episode: "Heart of Darkness"
2006 Thief Det. John Hayes 5 episodes
2007 Crossing Jordan Shawn Curaco Episode: "D.O.A."
2008 Law & Order Jamie Yost Episode: "Executioner"
Shark Oscar Riddick Episode: "Bar Fight"
Chuck Frank Mauser Episode: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
Humanzee! Priest Episode: "Pilot"
2009 Meteor Calvin Stark 2 episodes
Criminal Minds Chief Carlson Episode: "House on Fire"
Psych Garth Longmore Episode: "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark"
2010 Burn Notice Dale Lawson Episode: "Guilty as Charged"
Matadors John Canterna Pilot
2010–2013 The Walking Dead Merle Dixon 14 episodes
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Television Series (2012)
2012 Outlaw Country Larkin's Henchman Television film
Archer Sheriff E.Z. Ponder (voice) Episode: "Bloody Ferlin"
2016 Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed Himself Documentary [20][21][22]
2017 SEAL Team Big Chief Episode: "Tip of the Spear"
Robot Chicken Merle Dixon (voice) Episode: "The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking"
2019 True Detective Edward Hoyt 2 episodes
The Dark Tower Eldred Jonas Pilot
2021 What If...? Yondu Udonta (voice) Episode: "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?"
Creepshow Beau Episode: "Drug Traffic"
2022 The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Yondu Udonta (voice) Disney+ special

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Voice role Notes
2004 The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay Centurion, Jack
2011 Call of Duty: Black Ops Himself Appears in Call of the Dead
Days of Thunder Rowdy Burns
2012 Lollipop Chainsaw Vikke
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Mike Harper Also motion capture
2013 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct Merle Dixon
2023 Crime Boss: Rockay City Touchdown


  1. ^ a b "Michael Rooker". TV Guide. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "'They' Command You to Score New TP/HC From Image". Bloody Disgusting.
  3. ^ Michael Rooker Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  4. ^ Hardwick, Chris (December 20, 2011). "Nerdist Podcast #151: Michael Rooker". Nerdist. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dark Sky's Hypothermia is Rolling! Full Casting News". Dread Central.
  6. ^ "Michael Rooker Discusses 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02.
  7. ^ "A Chat with Horror Icon Michael Rooker". Dread Central.
  8. ^ "TV: Michael Rooker Becomes One of 'The Walking Dead'!". Bloody Disgusting.
  9. ^ "Blood-Soaked Snow in First Hi-Res Look at 'Hypothermia'". Bloody Disgusting.
  10. ^ "Michael Rooker Scores Leading Role in Dark Sky's 'Hypothermia'!". Bloody Disgusting.
  11. ^ "First Look at Michael Rooker on the Set of 'Hypothermia'!". Bloody Disgusting.
  12. ^ "Michael Rooker Joining AMC's The Walking Dead". Dread Central.
  13. ^ "Michael Rooker interview (Merle Dixon on "The Walking Dead")". The Desk of Brian. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03.
  14. ^ "Michael Rooker Joins 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'". Deadline Hollywood. April 16, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "Michael Rooker Says Yondu Will Return for Guardians of the Galaxy 2". Renegade Cinema.
  16. ^ "Michael Rooker Buckles Up For 'Fast & Furious 9'". Deadline Hollywood. August 19, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  17. ^ Francisco, Eric. "Michael Rooker: A real-life superpower inspired his 'Suicide Squad' role [Exclusive]". Inverse. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  18. ^ "Truly Disturbing: Horror Icon of the Month: Michael Rooker | Michael Rooker Online". www.michaelrookeronline.com. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  19. ^ Grobar, Matt (2021-10-28). "'The Out-Laws': Ellen Barkin, Nina Dobrev, Michael Rooker, Lil Rel Howery & More Round Out Cast Of Netflix Action Comedy". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  20. ^ "Amazon.com: Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed: Sean Astin, Tom Arnold, Michael Rooker, Penn Jillette, Zelda Williams, Matt Walsh, Alison Haislip, Meghan Camarena, William Shatner, Kevin Smith, Tony Hawk, Jeremy Snead: Amazon Digital Services LLC". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Cast & Crew - Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed". unlockedtvshow.com (Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed official website). Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  22. ^ Stipp, Christopher (November 19, 2016). "This Week In Trailers: I Am Not Your Negro, The New Man, Detour, Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed, The Salesman". Slashfilm. Retrieved July 24, 2017.

External linksEdit