Michael Rooker is an American actor best known for his turn as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in the top grossing Marvel films Guardians of the Galaxy, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and also 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, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, JFK, Cliffhanger, Tombstone, Mallrats, Rosewood, The 6th Day, and Jumper. Rooker also has a prolific relationship with writer/director James Gunn, appearing in many Gunn-helmed productions including Slither, Super, The Belko Experiment, the Blumhouse reboot of Fantasy Island, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and Warner Bros’ The Suicide Squad. Rooker also voiced Yondu Udonta in the animated series What If…? from Marvel. In 2022 he began filming for the upcoming western series Horizons, reuniting with JFK co-star Kevin Costner.
Rooker has guest-starred on numerous 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 voice-over work in video games has also included Mike Harper, the lead character in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and the villain Vikke in Lollipop Chainsaw.
Rooker, who has eight brothers and sisters, was born in Jasper, Alabama and studied at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, where he moved with his mother and siblings at the age of thirteen, after his parents divorced.
1990: Golden Space Needle Award – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
1991: International Fantasy Film Award – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
2012: Special Achievement Award for Best Ensemble, Television – The Walking Dead
2013: Guys Choice Spike TV
2014: Critics Choice Award – Best Action Movie – Guardians of the Galaxy
2014: Phoenix Film Critics Society – Best Ensemble Acting – Guardians of the Galaxy cast
2017: Golden Angel Award – Best Actor on TV in China
1991: Independent Spirit Award, Best Male Lead – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
2006: Fangoria Chainsaw Award: Relationship from Hell – Slither
2017: Teen Choice Award – “Choice Scene Stealer,” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
2018: Saturn Awards: Best Supporting Actor – Yondu Udonta, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2