Michael Rooker has his human makeup on for this weekend’s fifth annual Soda City Comic Con.
That’s how the 64-year-old Alabama-born actor explains his appearance to confused children who expect him to show up as the blue-skinned space pirate Yondu in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.
“I can see their little brains going, ‘Wait a minute, this is not Yondu. He sounds like Yondu, but he’s not blue, mom,’” Rooker said in a phone interview with The State. “So I say, ‘Listen, the reason I’m not blue is because I can’t be blue here on Earth, so I have to have my human makeup on.’ And you see them shaking their heads, ‘Yes.’
“The little kids are by far my favorite people at these cons,” said Rooker, a longtime actor who can also be recognized (in human form) from his roles on “The Walking Dead” and “True Detective.” “They’re just so enamored and wide-eyed and beautiful.”
Rooker is one of the featured guests at this year’s Comic Con, taking over the Metropolitan Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. He will share the floor with comic artists, voice over actors and actress Kathy Najimy from “Hocus Pocus” and “King of the Hill.”
Rooker says he gets a lot of questions about Yondu’s blue skin, but says it wasn’t a complicated process getting into character for the two Marvel movies.
“They basically have my hands tied, and they dip me in this vat of blueness,” Rooker jokes. “That was in my contract. I’ve got to be completely blue. I’ve got to live this. It’s a method thing,” before he breaks down laughing, insisting the reporter believed him.
Actually, he spent around three hours in the makeup chair every day, plus doing wardrobe and final looks before the director calls action.
Since his time in Guardians, Rooker has done some continent-hopping, from Australia, where he filmed the Paramount picture “Monster Problems,” to Croatia for the Amazon adaptation of Stephen King’s “Dark Tower.” In between, he recorded a series of promos for NBC’s NASCAR coverage highlighting different speedways, including South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway.
Rooker himself is a NASCAR fan, and played a race car driver in the Tom Cruise film “Days of Thunder.” He was invited to this year’s Southern 500, but regrets he won’t be able to make it.
Instead, he was recently in Fiji shooting a horror reboot of “Fantasy Island,” a “freaky” movie that had Rooker — who is “more of a night person,” he says — doing fight scenes in the South Pacific heat.
“You can think of the hottest, most humid day where you’re at right now, and it would at least double it,” he said. “I found out later on it takes a good 13-14 days to acclimate to a new climate that’s a pretty extreme difference, and I worked my first day... It was probably one of the toughest first days I’ve ever shot.”
Told Columbia in August is known for being “famously hot,” Rooker said, “I’ll be going from shade tree to shade tree to reach the convention.”
This will be Rooker’s first visit to Columbia, but he hopes some distant South Carolina relatives will come see him.
“My cousin and I have been going over ancestry stuff, and apparently there were a bunch of ancestors in the Carolinas,” he said. “Maybe there will be some Rookers coming by. I have no idea.”
To answer one fan question, as of now Rooker doesn’t expect Yondu and his deadly, whistle-directed arrow to appear in a third “Guardians” movie after (spoiler alert) the character died in “Vol. 2.”
“I tell people my energy shot off in the form of an arrow into space,” Rooker said. “But if it went into space, maybe it can turn around and come back, you never know. It depends on how many people call Marvel and Disney and complain that Yondu’s not there. They listen to you folks.”
Soda City Comic Con runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.