“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn and actor Michael Rooker engaged in a lively audience Q&A following a screening hosted by the Atlanta Film Festival on Sunday evening. Everything was going great until someone asked if that Rooker’s character Yondu wasn’t just “Space-Merle,” a reference to Rooker’s character on The Walking Dead.
Gunn was not amused. “That’s (bleeping) (blank)!” he said, using terms we cannot post on a family newspaper blog.
It wasn’t clear if Gunn was truly outraged or just likes to use colorful language, or both. But the question, coming at nearly the very end of the event, did seem to leave him peeved. Gunn had earlier spoken very highly of the experience he and his team have had filming the Marvel project at Pinewood Studios south of Atlanta.
“Atlanta has treated us really well,” he said. His and Rooker’s appearance at the 40th annual Atlanta Film Festival was meant as a sort of thank-you to the city for its hospitality toward film folk.
Here’s a short video clip to give you an idea of how much he appreciated Rooker’s character being tagged “Space-Merle.”
Rooker demanded one more question follow the Space-Merle one.
“We need a better last question!” he said.
But he did ponder the topic and had a thoughtful response:
“The comparisons are there. Yondu and the role of Merle, you look at what fuels everything they do. It all has to do with the love of someone close to them,” Rooker said. “Star-Lord and Daryl Dixon. Yondu does many things in this movie and it is because he is connected with Star-Lord. Merle does the same thing because of the love for his brother, Darryl Dixon. He gives up his life, basically, for Daryl Dixon. Yondu would probably most definitely do the same if he had to.
These internal connections are really what I think people are sort of sensing in these two roles.”