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Rooker, Michael (The Walking Dead)

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I don’t know about other interviewers and whether they have a favorite interviewee, but mine, hands down, is Michael Rooker. The guy is the total package: hilarious, serious about his craft, a goofball at times, but always willing to talk about his latest or upcoming projects. And he’s just SUCH a nice guy!

So, when “The Walking Dead” started, I knew I had to interview him for that as his character quickly became a fan favorite. Then, I got the bonus of discussing Rooker’s directorial debut, also in the horror genre, Pennhurst. The interview that follows took over two hours to conduct and a few extra days of back and forth to clean things up, but it was one of the most hilarious interviews I’ve done in quite a while.

Read on for Part One, focusing on “The Walking Dead”, and then head over to Part Two, all about Pennhurst, for more.


Michael Rooker on The Walking DeadDC: Hey, Rooker! Let’s just get to the nitty-gritty and talk us some Merle and “The Walking Dead”. What can you tell us about where Merle has gone and when we might see him again? He’s definitely become a fan favorite.

MR: Girl, first I have to say I am so excited and honored to be a part of “The Walking Dead”. And I’m flabbergasted at how quickly it seems to have become the biggest thing on earth. (Ed. Note: “The Walking Dead” was the cover story of the December 3 issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine, who declared it The Best New Show on TV). It’s not just a show about zombies but about the survivors. There’s action, horror, sensitivity; plus people really dig how (Robert) Kirkman leaves every story with a cliffhanger.

About Merle…well, when we first meet him, he’s high on coke (we didn’t want to go too far with that fact so Deputy Grimes just makes a throw-away comment), but you don’t really know much else about him. He’s a survivor as well as a survivalist and gets religion when the shit hits the fan, but don’t we all? Man, that monologue I had in Episode Three was the BEST!! No one gets four-minute monologues on TV!! I had fun with that. Frank (Darabont) just let me go with it!

It’s gonna be fun to see how Merle develops. We already know he killed two zombies after losing his right hand and a lot of blood so he’s one mean motherfucker (laughs). I love getting down and dirty with roles, and I REALLY dig it when people love my work.

DC: Speaking of “heat-crazy”, just how bad was it shooting on that rooftop in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave in leather?

MR: I called it “frying time” because you probably could fry an egg on my forehead (laughs). We spent about a week up there shooting Episode Two, and it got pretty rough for some of the actors, what with the fight scene and just being up there for a week. That fight scene was like a big dance between the actors and the cameramen: it was choreographed, well-orchestrated, and you discover it is MUCH harder to NOT hit someone when doing a scene like that.

In Episode Three, for my “heat-crazy” monologue, it took just about half of the morning to shoot that, but it’s the best Rooker you’ll ever see! After seeing my performance in Episode Two, Frank Darabont went back to LA and got together with the other writers and wrote that four-minute monologue for me. I was VERY proud and honored when I found that out. And I have to give HUGE kudos to the post-production folks because I had to ADR the scene, what with all the street noise from below the building, but the sound mixers saved the scene. What you see on that screen is all me, no ADR. Those guys are geniuses! Post-production geniuses!!

DC: So, fans can assume that Merle will be back? We need a “More Merle” page on Facebook (anyone care to tackle that on “The Walking Dead” FB page?).

MR: (laughing) A “More Merle” page! That would be great. AMC really loves fan feedback so that would be a great idea. Get on it, girl!!

Actually, now that AMC has ordered 13 more episodes, it’s anybody’s guess when Merle MIGHT turn up. He definitely needs to teach his baby brother Daryl how to squirrel fight (laughs). And Daryl is pronounced “Derle” no matter what anyone says or how they spell it (laughs).

DC: Did you ever read the Entertainment Weekly review of “The Walking Dead”? Where the reviewer refers to you as a “human god”?

MR: (laughing) A “human god” (something I’ve known all along [laughing] – just kidding)! I owe that guy Ken Tucker dinner!

DC: Do you have ANY idea when you might be returning to Atlanta?

MR: Girl, I love not knowing what’s next. When my next job might be coming. When and if Frank or Gale Anne (Hurd, pictured below with Rooker) call, I’m there. But I’m so happy right now, I can’t WAIT to get back to Atlanta so fingers crossed.

Michael Rooker and Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead

DC: And speaking of returning to Atlanta, is it true that you DRIVE to all of your locations when shooting a film?

MR: You got that right, darlin’. Back in 2000 I bought myself a 1999 Lincoln Navigator, and that sucker currently has almost 300,000 miles on it. I love to drive. I use the driving time to prep for a role, and after the shoot I use the time to clear my mind…defrag. I only fly if there’s just not enough time to drive there between jobs.

DC: When we first meet Merle, he is one sumbitch racist. Was it hard to use the “N” word?

MR: As Merle, it was not a problem for me to say it as that’s what he would say. I WOULD have had a problem if I had been told to be more politically correct because Merle is anything BUT politically correct. Hell, I grew up on the north side of Chicago, this little kid from Alabama, so I’ve dealt with racism. I’ve had to delete some people from my Facebook page who made racist comments or jokes or were spewing their politics. Personally, I can’t stand racists, but it’s fun playing one.

We discussed Merle having tattoos but decided that would be gilding the lily and axed the idea altogether. Which was fine with me as I’m a “wash and wear” kind of guy – not into all of that wardrobe stuff. I would go nuts sitting in a makeup chair, day after day, having tattoos applied. All Frank told me was to “keep it real” as Merle, and I think I did him proud.

DC: Any other projects you have coming that you want fans to be aware of?

MR: Bolden will be out in 2011 as well as its companion, the silent movie Louis. Doing a silent movie was great – loved every minute of that! And it was hard work keepin’ MY mouth shut!

Then there’s this little monster movie I did called Hypothermia – sort of a Creature from the Black Lagoon on a frozen lake story, but I have no idea when that will be released. Also, Cell 213 where I play this sadistic prison guard influenced by Satan who tortures the souls under his “care”.

DC: And there’s James Gunn’s latest, Super, with you, Rainn Wilson, Liv Tyler, Ellen Page, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillion, and many other familiar “names”. What can you tell us about that film?

MR: Ah, Super. You know, I have NO idea how Gunn got that cast. He offered me sexual favors for my participation so that was a no-brainer (laughing). Super is the story of this guy, Rainn Wilson’s character, whose girlfriend, Liv Tyler’s character, is “stolen” away by this handsome strip club owner, played by Kevin Bacon. Rainn becomes The Crimson Bolt to try and get his girlfriend back, and he is assisted by this young girl, who is a bit psychotic, called Boltie, played by Ellen Page. Nathan Fillion also makes an appearance as The Holy Avenger, and even James Gunn has an interesting cameo (laughs).

My character is one of Kevin Bacon’s goons who, if they were the Three Stooges, my character would be the “Moe” of the bunch. None of them are too bright (the other two “goons” are played by Sean Gunn, James’ brother, and Steven Blackehart), but I’m the least dumb of the three so I’m in charge (laughs). And my character has a little tenderness in him (awwwww; laughs).

The film is a dark comedy. An ill-conceived, weirdo, bizarre comedy (laughing), but it was a lot of fun to do. We shot in Shreveport, Louisiana (just before I did “The Walking Dead”), and two of the producers also did the film Dead and Breakfast so that might give you an idea of the type of comedy we’re dealing with here. And I believe it is set to be released April 1, 2011, so watch for it. Also, about 40-50% of the “making of” was shot on my flip camera, but people got tired of me shooting them with their mouths full of food so others started bringing THEIR cameras to set (laughs).

DC: As always, it has been hilarious talking to you, Rooker (and spending at least 30+ minutes uploading your Merle picture to your computer so you can post it). And anyone NOT already watching “The Walking Dead” may just receive a visit from Merle to induce them to START watching. Am I correct?

MR: You are indeed, darlin’ (laughing). Always a pleasure talking to you, and I will keep you posted on things.

Michael Rooker and Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead

DC: You sweet thang (both laughing). And folks, stay up-to-date on all things zombie at the official “The Walking Dead” page on AMC.com. Merle would appreciate it.


Our thanks to Rooker for taking the time to speak with us, and as mentioned, keep your eyes peeled for Part Two of our epic interview! In the meantime stay entertained by following @Michael_Rooker on Twitter.

Elaine Lamkin

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Freddy’s Greatest Hits Vinyl Re-issue Is a Must-Own

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Strange Disc Records has just announced that it will be releasing “Freddy’s Greatest Hits – The Elm Street Group” on vinyl starting this Wednesday with pre-orders expected to ship in January 2018.

Not only that but Mondo announced they will be releasing an exclusive variant pressed on “Freddy Sweater” striped vinyl. This LP from Mondo is limited to 400 and will cost you $25.

For those who might not know, “Freddy’s Greatest Hits” was originally released in 1987. The record contains nine tracks (covers, originals, and instrumentals) with Robert Englund doing the voice of Freddy over the top.

I don’t know about you but this has just made my list of must-own items. But I’d prefer an original copy. That said an original copy is probably hundreds of buck on eBay as opposed to this version for a mere $25 bucks. Not bad.

You can check out the full track listing and a sample song below. Then make sure to hit us up and let us know if you’ll be snagging a copy in the comments below!

Track Listing

1. “Do The Freddy”
Freddy and the Dreamers cover, as well as a parody.
The lyrics were changed to fit Freddy Krueger persona and elements

2. “Obsession”
original song

3. “Wooly Bully”
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs cover.
Freddy (Robert Englund) provides the opening lyrics.

4. “Don’t Sleep”
original song

5. “In The Midnight Hour”
Wilson Pickett cover

6. “All I Have To Do Is Dream”
Everly Brothers cover

7. “Dance or Else”
original song

8. “Down in the Broiler Room”
original song

9. “Elm Street Dreams”
original song

Pre-orders begin Wednesday, November 22.

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That is One Gigantic Steampunk Squid…

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Perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi adventures novels ever written, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark book, one that was decades ahead of its time. The story follows the crew of the Nautilus, a submarine commanded by Captain Nemo, as they venture in search of a giant sea monster. It was the basis for several film adaptations and the character of Captain Nemo played a pivotal role in the graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because Tor Books is releasing Nemo Rising, a sequel, this Christmas! Written by C. Courtney Joyner, the story once again follows Nemo, although this book sees him a prisoner that must be pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant in order to face an onslaught of more sea monsters.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother you all with this, but I happen to have a soft spot in my heart for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the cover art for the book is fucking epic! I’ve always been a fan of cephalopods, and I’ve found the steampunk aesthetic to be pretty fascinating. Combine them both along with giant monsters, and you damn well better believe that I’m 100% into it! Plus, it’s wrapped itself around the Nautilus, which is already a giant vessel, so now I’m wondering just how large these mechanical monstrosities are…

Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26, 2017.

Synopsis:
Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his Navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution.

Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

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Filming On Blumhouse’s Halloween Pushed to January

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Looks like filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green has been pushed back a few months.

Not a huge deal, though. Only till January.

Filming on Halloween (2018) was supposed to begin this October (natch) but now it seems the film still has some cast to fill out.

The news comes to us via a South Carolina casting agency, The Island Packet, who are still seeking extras for the new film. In fact, if you are from the South Carolina area, you can be an extra in the film. Just click the link above for more details.

I wish I lived in or around South Carolina because being in this new Halloween would be a f*cking dream come true. If you’re in the area, get on it. You owe it to the rest of us! Haha?

How excited would you be to be an extra in this new Halloween? Let us know below!

Blumhouse’s Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer and is executive produced and scored by John Carpenter.

Halloween (2018) hits theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

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