Michael Rooker is an American actor known for his turn as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise. He is also well known as the character fans loved to hate on AMC’s worldwide hit television show The Walking Dead, Merle Dixon.
Rooker has thrilled fans for decades with complex portrayals of characters audiences can’t help but cheer on despite their dark personas. He made his film debut in 1986 playing the title role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a film based on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. He has since appeared in numerous films including Mississippi Burning (1988), Sea of Love (1989), Days of Thunder (1990), JFK (1991), Cliffhanger (1993), Mallrats (1995), Tombstone (1993), Rosewood (1997), The 6th Day (2000), Jumper (2008), and Bolden (2019). Rooker also has a prolific relationship with writer/director James Gunn, appearing in the Gunn-helmed productions Slither (2006), Super (2008), Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Belko Experiment (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) and The Suicide Squad (2021).
He has guest starred on several TV shows including Stargate SG-1, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas, JAG, Numb3rs, Law & Order, Chuck, Criminal Minds, Psych, Burn Notice, and Archer. He added his voice talents to Activision’s video game The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Rooker’s voiceover work in video games includes Mike Harper, the lead character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and the villain Vikke in Lollipop Chainsaw.
In 2019, Rooker joined the acclaimed HBO series True Detective for a surprise appearance as the shadowy billionaire owner of Hoyt Foods at the end of season 3. In 2020 he appeared in the Blumhouse horror film reboot Fantasy Island and joined his former Walking Dead brother during season 4 of on AMC’s Ride with Norman Reedus. He also co-starred in Love and Monsters with Dylan O’Brien and appears in Fast and Furious franchise (F9). In 2022 he began filming for the upcoming western series Horizons, reuniting with JFK co-star Kevin Costner.