Michael Rooker and James Gunn have been quite the talented tandem. They first hooked up on Gunn’s Slither in 2006 and have been great friends and creative compatriots ever since. Rooker’s career was pushed to a whole new level after he appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy and he’ll soon be seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Before the Marvel sequel hits screens in May, though, we have a chance to witness another Gunn-Rooker collaboration, the bombastically brilliant The Belko Experiment.
The kill or be killed office-based horror flick finds Rooker as the engineer of a building which everyone becomes trapped inside, as a voice comes across the speakers informing them that each soul in the building has a bomb implanted in their head and if they don’t do what they’re told, it will go off. And what they’re forced to do… is kill.
Rooker spoke with us during the film’s press day in LA, where he shared insight into the mind of Gunn, what he most adored about The Belko Experiment and his long and esteemed career.
See what he had to say below and enjoy!
WGTC: I was curious, when you first saw the script from James, I know you’re no stranger to being blown away by what he does, but what did you think when you saw this crazy world?
Michael Rooker: We had it and it was just waiting for the right moment to film it with the right group of crazy friends that would go along with him and do it, right? I thought it was nuts. I thought it was crazy good. I had already committed to something, so when we spoke I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Well, let’s see if we can find something in there for me. I thought it was just perfect.
WGTC: They say in screenwriting that each character should be able to have their own movie. And you look at Belko and there’s so many characters in this film and each one could have their own story.
Michael Rooker: That’s why we hook up so creatively so well. We’re a good match because whether the character is in every scene or in one scene – it’s completely a full beginning, middle and end.
WGTC: Now, did you give yourself kind of a backstory for your guy? What was he doing in Bogota?
Michael Rooker: Working. Yeah, making a living, taking care of this building – it’s all his, it’s like his ship. He knows every part of it – every inch of it. Mechanically, physically, he knows this building. I mean, he does everything.
WGTC: He’s the guy who first realizes that something is seriously wrong as the metal comes down across all the windows and doors.
Michael Rooker: He’s like, ‘Woah! What is this? I’ve never encountered any material like this.’ And so for me reading the script, when that occurs, I think that’s a really big moment for this character because everything has its purpose and you can take anything apart and put it back together. So for this not to be able to respond to this heat and it’s not even hot, right. Remember we touch it, after using a blow torch, and it’s not even hot. That is sort of like a spring board for my character’s main thrust in this piece, is to figure out what’s going on.
WGTC: What about when the violence starts? Where do you think he goes mentally?
Michael Rooker: I’m there to protect my friend, who is the mentally challenged guy that I end up getting him the job and end up vouching for him. I’ll take good care of him. He’s a good worker and I’m going to teach him everything he needs to know, don’t worry. That’s my main thrust, is to keep him out of harm’s way, while at the same time trying to figure out what is going on with my house.
WGTC: You’ve had quite an illustrious career. It’s spanned a lot of time. What do you think you get most noticed for?
Michael Rooker: It depends. I get recognized from The Walking Dead and Guardians the most right now. But there are a lot of fans, older fans and younger fans that have seen the older movies. So I get recognized from Days of Thunder, too. This weekend I was at a fan convention thing and I got recognized quite a lot. People came up and they were very into Days of Thunder and Rowdy Burns.
WGTC: That’s an indelible character.
Michael Rooker: I usually wear my leather [jacket], to events like that and for some reason I wore this really thin, nylon-y kind of jacket that was Rowdy Burns jacket. I had just picked it out of the closet and I hadn’t worn it in 25 years. It has never been worn outside the set and so I just got it and wore it to the event. It was amazing.
That concludes our interview, but be sure to check out The Belko Experiment when it opens this Friday!