The Walking Dead's Michael Rooker "Relieved" by Merle's Fate
Michael Rooker | Photo Credits: Gene Page/AMC
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday's penultimate episode of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
Who knew we could feel bad for The Walking Dead's Merle Dixon? In one of the AMC zombie drama's most surprisingly emotional scenes, Daryl (Norman Reedus) was forced to put down his once-villainous-turned-hero brother Merle (Michael Rooker) after discovering him as a walker — a fate The Governor (David Morrisey) bestowed upon his former right hand man after Merle attempted to kill him and the fighters from Woodbury. Though Rooker is relieved that Merle met his maker, he thought it was too soon in the story line to say goodbye. TVGuide.com caught up with Rooker to find out why:
When did you find out Merle was going to die?
Michael Rooker: About two weeks before the episode. I was actually quite relieved because I wouldn't have to wear the arm again. Honest to God, that was my first thought. Thank you, thank you! I don't have to put the god---- thing on ever again. But then I thought, "Oh sh--, I'm out of a job."
How much more difficult was it acting with the arm contraption this season? And what, if anything, did you have to change in your acting style to accommodate that?
Rooker: I got used to it so quickly, it was crazy. I didn't necessarily like wearing it. It didn't cause me to act any differently. It ended up being an extension of my own hand. I used that "hand" all the time. That "hand" ended up being a nice tool. I could eat a single [grain of] rice with that "hand."
Were you sad to say goodbye to the character after fans had waited so long to see him return?
Rooker: That's kind of a shame. I thought it was unfortunate, and I did not necessarily agree with the choice to do this. It was a big build up and you really didn't get the true payoff. We had a great through line for this season, but the fans want more. They're not very happy. I don't think a lot of the true Walking Dead fans are happy with this. But, as you know, as actors, we don't have a choice in the matter. It's cliché, I know, but it's so true: When one door closes, another door opens.
What was it like putting on the zombie makeup and going through this transformation?
Rooker: I did Slither, so I've done seven hours in the makeup chair. So two hours for zombie makeup is like nothing. That's a walk in the park for me. When you do seven-hour makeup and then eight hours of work, you're thinking, "Oh God, what did this do to me?" You're under that rubber forever. It's crazy.
Do you think Merle ultimately got redemption in his quest to kill The Governor?
Rooker: It was unfortunate that he didn't shoot The Governor in the head. The way it was edited, it looked like Merle would've missed The Governor anyway, which is not how we did the scene. The scene was shot in a way that Merle missed The Governor because the walker attacked him and pushed the rifle away from The Governor and shot the kid in the face. But the way it was edited, it looked like Merle actually missed The Governor, which is kind of dumb. But that's my own opinion. There's no reason why he would've missed accept for the zombie hitting him and causing him to miss.