Michael Rooker (born April 6, 1955) is an American actor, best known for his roles as Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead, Frank Bailey in Mississippi Burning, Hal Tucker in Cliffhanger, Rowdy Burns in Days of Thunder, and Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy. He is originally from Jasper, Alabama.
On first breaking into film, his intensity and "don't-mess-with-me" good looks were highlighted to chilling effect as the title character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, filmed in 1986 but not released until 1990 due to its controversial nature. Since that widely noticed and highly praised performance, much of his career has been spent playing brutes, villains and psychopaths. His occasional turns as a "good guy", however, are always well-acted and a welcome change for a talented actor too often typecast.
- 1986 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer as Henry
- 1988 Mississippi Burning as Frank Bailey
- 1988 Eight Men Out as Chick Gandil
- 1989 Sea of Love as Terry Cruger
- 1990 Days of Thunder as Rowdy Burns
- 1991 JFK as Bill Broussard
- 1993 Cliffhanger as Hal Tucker
- 1993 The Dark Half as Sheriff Alan Pengborne
- 1993 Tombstone as Sherman McMaster
- 1995 Mallrats as Jared Svenning
- 1998 The Replacement Killers as Stan "Zeedo" Zedkov
- 1999 The Bone Collector as Captain Howard Cheney
- 2000 The 6th Day as Robert Marshall
- 2001 Replicant as Detective Jake Riley
- 2006 Slither as Grant Grant
- 2008 Jumper as William Rice
- 2010 Super as Abe
- Marvel Cinematic Universe as Yondu Udonta
- 2016 The Belko Experiment as Bud Melks
- 2020 Fantasy Island (2020) as Damon
- 2020 Love And Monsters as Clyde Dutton
- 2021 F9 as Buddy
- 2021 The Suicide Squad as Savant
- 1988 The Equalizer as Bill Whitaker
- 2001 The Outer Limits as Col. Beckett
- 2002 Jeremiah as Major Quantrell
- 2003 Tremors as Kinney
- 2003 CSI: Miami as Marty Jones
- 2004 Las Vegas as Marcus Wexler
- 2005 NUMB3RS as Don's partner (unaired pilot)
- 2005 JAG as Capt. Jack Ramsey
- 2007 Crossing Jordan as Shawn Curaco
- 2008 Law & Order as Jamie Yost
- 2008 Chuck as Mauser
- 2009 Criminal Minds as Chief Carlson
- 201013 The Walking Dead as Merle Dixon
- 2012 Archer as Sheriff EZ Ponder
- 2019 True Detective as Edward Hoyt
Video Game Roles
- 2011 Call of Duty: Zombies DLC in Call of Duty: Black Ops As Himself
- 2012 Lollipop Chainsaw as Vikke
- 2012 Call of Duty: Black Ops II as Mike Harper
Tropes in hos works:
- Production Posse: If you're watching a James Gunn movie, you can bet good money he's gonna be in it in some way, shape, or form.
- Star-Making Role: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, widely regarded as one of the best, most realistic and chilling performances of a serial killer in film.
- Typecasting: Due to his raspy voice and memorable performance as Henry Lee Lucas, Michael is often cast as sinister villains (even in comedic flicks like Mallrats). However, he has (and does) play good guys.
- Regardless of moral alignment, his characters tend to fit redneck, white trash stereotypes to varying degrees.