Michael Rooker is having a moment.
The veteran actor who played Merle on The Walking Dead and made his name in films like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Cliffhanger, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, Eight Men Out, Mallrats and more is suddenly best known – and beloved – as Yondu Udonta, the red-finned, blue-skinned alien with an Alabamian accent -- and heart of gold -- from the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Without giving too much away, Yondu is not only the heart of the sequel, GotG Vol. 2, but also the focus of a fan-favorite Internet meme quoting his line from the movie "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!" As a result, Yondu has become a breakout character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and the man behind him the focus of a lot of fan love.
Personally, I've known Michael Rooker for a few years now and have served as his moderator on stage at numerous comic cons – which also means being his rag doll as he displayed how to drop-kick, choke-hold, and body-slam a person. And while it may hurt his cred as an irascible smartass, I have to say he's a helluva nice and sincere guy who has earned the recent attention for his work.
But just to alleviate any concerns, don't worry, he is indeed a smartass. And at the recent Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, I had a playful chat with Rooker about the character of Yondu, which also means digging into the topic of Mary Poppins and the now-famous Yondu whistle.