Michael Rooker was kind enough to sit down with me and bash knuckles like the kids do nowadays. We also discussed Guardians of the Galaxy and his character Yondu Udonta, the blue-skinned alien responsible for raising Peter Quill. While we haven’t seen much of Yondu within the various trailers and video for the film, he plays a very important role and Michael’s portrayal of him is top-notch!
Nate/CBM: You and James Gunn are pretty good friends, did he have anything to do with Merle getting knocked off The Walking Dead?
Michael: Not at all, no. It just totally worked out. The timing was absolutely perfect and it just happened.
Nate/CBM: I notice you mentioned in the press conference. James wouldn’t let you read the comic books. Is that true?
Michael: No he didn’t want me to read them, but I read them anyway.
Nate/CBM: Did you read the 2008 version that the film is based upon?
Michael: No I concentrated on the older ones because the newer versions don’t have Yondu. I wanted to get a take on Yondu. Oh and yeah, he had a new and revamped Yondu, but I wanted to bring into play some of the older Yondu into the role as well. I was always trying to find some way of making that intertwine.
Nate/CBM: Do you like the Yondu from the comics with the big Mohawk or the smaller one that they used for your character in the film?
Michael: Yeah, but that’s a physical thing. I was more concerned with… The whole mystical element and being the last of its kind and all this kind of stuff. His fifth sense abilities and stuff. I wanted to bring those into play a little bit.
Nate/CBM: Not only is Yondu in the film, but he plays a pretty big part there at the end. Why did they wait so long to show what he can do and how dangerous he is?
Michael: There was no real reason there was no real reason to show the power that he has with his arrow, until he really needed it. You know he used it to threaten and he used it when the other ravager was like “You treat this kid, you’ve been soft on him.” and he’s like finally has to go like this (Michael reaches down like he’s pulling his duster away to reveal the weapon at his hip). You see the arrow start to move and the lights starting… So it’s connected to his emotions you know. And so the guys like “Not a problem. Not a problem.”
Nate/CBM: It’s teased the throughout the entire film and you finally see it and you’re like, wow! Yondu is a bad @ss.
Michael: He’s a bad @ss, he’s a bad @ss! His arrow is bad @ss. I mean his power is like, really powerful. You know, so it’s really, really a big deal.
Nate/CBM: I can’t whistle and people that can do it blow my mind. Was that you whistling in the film? Was it hard to do?
Michael: Yeah I did the whistle and all the little…yeah, you know all the… (Michael whistles). And then the little (Michael whistling again) you know and then all the little (Michael amazes me with an entire whistling performance, including the parts directly from the movie).
I trained with the whistling before, so I knew I was gonna be doing this whistle. And so I have it on my computer, the sound of the whistle. I was training before I even went over. He sent me the whistling. So I knew the whistle, the sound.
The whistle is a take-off the harmonica that Bronson plays in Once Upon a Time in the West.
Nate/CBM: There’s a Wild West overtone to the film. How much did James Gunn focus on this galactic Wild West and was it something that the cast was aware of?
Michael: Oh yeah, it is and it’s a Wild West out there. You got the bad guys trying to control everything and then you got, it’s not the magnificent seven or anything like that, but it is definitely and there is the gun fight with uh, with Star Lord in the beginning.
Nate/CBM: At the end of the film, what is Yondu going to do with the troll?
Michael: (laughing) I know!! The troll is awesome though, isn’t it!? That’s my boy, he gave me a trinket. Oh I get to put it on my console! It’s like my trinket, all my trinkets that I put on my console, you know? My little frog, all those very important stuff. So when I open it up and there is a little trinket, it’s awesome! Wow, he’s like “That’s my boy!” First of all he screwed me out of my booty right? Now I don’t get to sell it to somebody, but he gave me something that’s worth more than gold and money to me, you know it’s like, finally, because all my others got burned up in my ship crash. So it’s just my little froggy and the new troll. That grin was like “Aawe yeah, that’s my boy.” Because I think Yondu is very proud that Star-Lord is the kind of kid that grew up, not only willing but able, to screw you out of something and steal your stuff. Every time he does it, it’s like you know, I made him do that. I trained him how to do that. Yeah, good kid.
Nate/CBM: Is that something that you think will be explored more in later films; the relationship between Star-Lord and Yondu, why Yondu decided to keep him?
I mean, yeah yeah there’s lots of reasons, I think I saw, in my mind, in my head they actors fill in these things. We always do and of course it could end up being something different, but you know I think Yondu sees himself in this kid. He sees you know this kid just lost his… he knows the kid just lost his mom. He’s sent there to pick him up, upon the mothers death. It’s not that he’s just showing up there and all of the sudden, oh the mom is dying. No he knew when the mom was going to die. And I don’t know how, but that’s when he was told to pick the kid up here, on this evening, and that’s exactly the time and there he is. And now it’s my job to take him to where he’s supposed to go, right? Decides not to, and it’s like “The kids got balls man.” (laughing) You know he’s able to stand up to all of these ravagers that are wanting to eat him and once Yondu sees that, he’s like… “Nah, I’m keeping him.”
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.