6 April 1955, Jasper, Alabama, USA
Michael Rooker was born in 1955 in Jasper, Alabama. When he was 13 his parents divorced and he went with his mother to live in Chicago. He caught the acting bug while attending college, and began appearing in local stage productions. On first breaking into film, his intensity and "don't-mess-with-me" good looks were highlighted to ch...
Michael Rooker was born in 1955 in Jasper, Alabama. When he was 13 his parents divorced and he went with his mother to live in Chicago. He caught the acting bug while attending college, and began appearing in local stage productions. 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 (1986), filmed in 1986 but, due to its controversial nature, not released until 1990. 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.
[on his Henry character] I can bring that role back in a second. I just rip into the little idiosyncrasies and it's interesting, I've never ...
[on his Henry character] I can bring that role back in a second. I just rip into the little idiosyncrasies and it's interesting, I've never said good-bye to Henry. That character, the introverted-ness, the soft-spoken quality is always there.
I don't approach a role by saying I'll be unsavory or unlikable. I think all the roles I've done have been very passionate people who go to ...
I don't approach a role by saying I'll be unsavory or unlikable. I think all the roles I've done have been very passionate people who go to absolute extremes to make their points.
(On filming Super (2010)) It was mayhem. No, not really. James Gunn tried to keep everything really organized. He had a good AD department. ...
(On filming Super (2010)) It was mayhem. No, not really. James Gunn tried to keep everything really organized. He had a good AD department. Everyone was professional, by which I mean all the actors of course had a lot of good experience, and the crew did as well. So even though the budget was small, everybody was dead-on and worked real hard. You have to when you do a little one like this, because you don't have time to waste. And there is no time. There's no money. In these kinds of productions, time is definitely money, so if you screw up a day or a shot, you may not get a chance to go back and get that shot and redo that day.
(On filming Crime Story: Pilot (1986)) That's one of the roles that I cut class at school to go do, and I never told them. They didn't know ...
(On filming Crime Story: Pilot (1986)) That's one of the roles that I cut class at school to go do, and I never told them. They didn't know how else to work outside of school, but I did anyway. I think I ended up getting my SAG card with that. And I had to cut my hair. I was in a play, and I had to have my long hair for it. Then [the Crime Story producers] wanted me to cut my hair because I was a cop or something like that. So what we ended up doing was cutting just the edges and stuffing my hair up under my hat, my cop hat, and I did the role that way.
(On landing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)) I was doing a play called "Sea Marks", an Irish play, a two-person play. The director...
(On landing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)) I was doing a play called "Sea Marks", an Irish play, a two-person play. The director was doing the prosthetic work for Henry, and he turned me on to what was going on. "They're casting this guy. You should go and audition". I did, and I ended up getting the job. That's how it came about. That was my first real film role that had any sort of beginning, middle, and end. I was there throughout the whole piece. I started reading some books and material. Nothing really helped. I saw a couple of interviews with [Lucas] with a state trooper or something like that. So I got a little handle on it from that. He's very soft-spoken, and very shy and introverted. So I hooked into that, and that was my handle for the role. Everything else was just our imaginations, and my imagination. That was a really kind of crazy piece for me, because I was scared shitless. It was my first real role in film. I had done plays, but I wasn't sure if I was going to be good at this film stuff, so I really worked hard to make sure that I was there, I was bringing it that day and that minute. I stayed in character all day. Once I went in to work, I stayed in character all day long. So after the cut, I would leave the set and go to my room, close the door, and not talk to anybody. I wouldn't talk to anyone all day long during the filming of it. I would just do my work and go away. Come in, action, do my job, do what I needed to do, and then go away. And that's what helped me through the entire piece. It was way too difficult to go in and out of character, especially then, because I was young as an actor. I didn't know how this film stuff worked. In a play, you stay in character pretty much almost all the way through until the evening's over. So that's what I did here. I used that technique. I stayed in character as much as I possibly could all day long, or all night long, whatever the times were on the day we worked. People thought that was a little weird, that I'd just go away, that I wouldn't talk to them and stuff. Then they saw my room, and I had all my mirrors covered up, taped up. I didn't want to see images of myself, and I kept the room dark or black. And I just stayed in the room and just prepared for the next scene. So yeah, it was kind of weird and crazy, but that was a technique that seemed like it worked.
(On almost not being cast in Eight Men Out (1988)) I was one of the last ballplayers to be cast. They couldn't find this guy, Chick Gandil, ...
(On almost not being cast in Eight Men Out (1988)) I was one of the last ballplayers to be cast. They couldn't find this guy, Chick Gandil, anywhere. They had called up several theaters around town. They got my name a few times. So they called my house after getting my number from some of the theater directors. They wanted me to send in a tape for this role. I think it was one of the smaller roles. But I said, "Where is the production?" It was in Indianapolis, Indiana. I said, "Well, my God, I'm going down there on a family barbecue this weekend. Why don't I just try to swing by and do the reading when I get there?" They said, "Okay, yeah, we'd love that". Of course, I lied through my teeth. I don't know anybody in Indianapolis, Indiana. But at that time, video sucked, and I would do anything to get in to do the audition physically without doing a video. Now, I gotta be there. I didn't have an agent at that time. I just fired all six of my agents here in Chicago. I went around the city, firing all my agents and taking back all my head-shots, because they weren't doing shit for me. It was a turning point in my career. I had decided "I'm not going to do film anymore, or TV. This is bullshit. I'm gonna do theater the rest of my career. I'm just going to do theater. I don't need this bullshit anymore". So, I went around and fired all of these schmucks, and I got back all my head-shots and resumes. And literally two days, three days later, I got this call from this film company. So I basically lied and I got into the audition. I borrowed $40 from my sister, drove down to Indianapolis in my Pontiac with a hole in the floorboard. I had to keep my windows open the whole time. Before I got there, I called the one and only agent that I hadn't been with in Chicago and said, "Look, you're my agent. I got an audition on this film. They're going to call you. I gave them your number and name. They're going to call you. Make the appointment. That's all you gotta do, okay?" "Okay". "Thanks, bye". That's all they did. They made the appointment and called me back and said, "Oh, yeah, you have a reading with John Sayles". I'm like, "Holy shit, great!" And so I went down there the whole time thinking "I'm going to have a reading with John Sayles!" So I get there and I'm talking with the casting lady, and there's no John Sayles to be had. He's not there. I didn't notice at first, and we were talking, and we start arguing about, "Well, where's John Sayles? I mean, I drove all this way to meet the director and read with the director." "Well, you can't do that." She wouldn't tell me he wasn't in town. So we have this whole row about it. We have this big argument about auditioning and "Where's John Sayles?", and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. And so finally she yells. We're yelling in the office, and I'm a little upset because I drove this whole way. It's my last $40 in the world, and it wasn't even mine. I had borrowed it from my sister. Finally, she said, "Well, you have to read with me first no matter what." And then I was just, "Oh, okay. No problem." So as we're going back through the hallway, she gives me the sides, "Here, read these." It's some three lines, some thug or something. As I'm going back through the hallway, there's photos of the ballplayers on the wall. And as we're going back, I'm still a little teed off, because I'm not reading with John Sayles. I borrowed my sister's last $40, and I begged her for that, and I'm like, "Oh, fuck me." Walking through the hallway, I go, "Well, you know what? If I was going to play anyone in this stupid movie, I'd play this fucking guy here." And I smack the photo. And it's Chick Gandil. I smack the photo of Chick Gandil, who is the only ballplayer they couldn't find. Everybody else had been cast. They couldn't find Chick Gandil, and lo and behold, and she stops and looks at me, because when I smacked it, it made a loud noise. She turned around, and she looked at me, and she looked at who I smacked and she said, "Here, read this. Give me that." And she took away the old sides and gave me the Chick Gandil sides. And we went into the room, and I fucking did the audition and blew her away, and the rest is history. She asked me to stay for the weekend, and I said, "Yes, of course." And then I slept in my car until Monday morning to meet John Sayles. She wanted me to read for John Sayles. She invited me out to dinner and wanted to get to know me, make sure I wasn't some crazy person and I was a real actor. And I got to read for John Sayles that Monday, and ended up being his first choice. Then I was saddened, because even though I was his first choice, he couldn't cast me, because his producers in L.A., Sarah Pillsbury and Midge Sanford, it was their character to cast. He had already cast his allotment. They split up casting. This was their choice. The Chick Gandil role was their choice to cast. So he said, "They won't cast him." By this time, I'd already won over John Sayles. I was his choice. I won over the casting director. She loved me by this time, and I was her choice. And he was like, "Has he done anything? They want to see him on film. Has he done anything at all?" She said, "Well, he has done this one thing." I had given her a VHS copy of Henry, and she had seen part of it and locked it away in the drawer thinking, "No, I better not show this to anyone. He won't get the role for sure if I showed this to anybody." So he was like, "Well, what is it? What is it?" She finally gave it to him. "Well, it's this. I don't know if it's what we're looking for." So he went upstairs and saw it, immediately cut out maybe 45 seconds to a minute of the table scene from the movie, when Henry's talking about his mom, sent it off to L.A., they saw it and said, "Cast him." I got the role because of Henry, and because of whatever, the stars. I did everything you should never, ever do to get this role. I fought with the casting director, I was an asshole. I was upset. I mean, I was everything Chick Gandil was. Hence, Eight Men Out.
(2011, on Tombstone (1993)) I learned to shoot in Tombstone (1993). I've been shooting ever since. As a matter of fact, I'm a co-owner share...
(2011, on Tombstone (1993)) I learned to shoot in Tombstone (1993). I've been shooting ever since. As a matter of fact, I'm a co-owner shareholder of a shooting range outside of L.A. I shoot at least once or twice a week.
(On filming Cliffhanger (1993)) Cliffhanger got me in the best shape of my life, working at 10,000 feet up in the mountains. And everybody w...
(On filming Cliffhanger (1993)) Cliffhanger got me in the best shape of my life, working at 10,000 feet up in the mountains. And everybody was great. I lived in Italy for seven months doing that movie. It was a great vacation.
(On filming Undisputed (2002)) It was in a prison in Nevada. And it was scary. It was very scary. Every teenager should go visit a maximum-s...
(On filming Undisputed (2002)) It was in a prison in Nevada. And it was scary. It was very scary. Every teenager should go visit a maximum-security prison. Talk about being scared straight. That was a scary, scary place. Clean as a whistle. You could eat off the floors, but it was so sterile and scary, it was like, "Holy shit. Let's do this movie and get the hell out of here". And the prisoners were very nice. The inmates were very, very cool. I have a lot of friends, a lot of fans that are in maximum-security prisons all over this country.
Michael Rooker's FILMOGRAPHY
Example Example Example
Michael Rooker'S roles
Stan 'Zeedo' Zedkov
Captain Howard Cheney
Sheriff Alan Pangborn
Himself - Guest, Himself, Himself - 'Merle'