Talking “The Driving Dead” with Michael Rooker.

Standing in the darkness of the empty movie theater I saw the SUV pull up and then he walked out. Dressed in jeans, a black shirt, a leather vest, sunglasses and baseball cap, he let out a big laugh as he exited the truck and greeted colleagues.

Walking into the theater he paused for a second and told the group that this theater (The Music Box) “was the first to premiere Henry when it was released.”  There was an aura about him as he walked by and I could tell that this was going to be an interesting morning.

Michael Rooker, better know as Merle Dixon to the fans of “The Walking Dead” or Yondu to fans of “Guardians of the Galaxy” was in Chicago on Thursday, August 21 to promote a new online series he will be starring in with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to promote safe driving called “The Driving Dead.”

As we sat in the darkened theater, Michael was introduced to the audience and he briefly spoke about why he was involved in the campaign.  He told us about losing his brother to a car roll over and felt that he could hopefully reach some people with “The Driving Dead” series.  We were next shown the trailer for the upcoming web series.


After the trailer was shown Michael prompted that the trailer be shown again and after the second viewing the floor was open to questions.

The cool thing about the question and answer session was that he was so cool and relaxed up there as he answered his questions.  At one point he pointed at me and called me out. “I know you have a question!”  I told him my question was a little quirky, but since this was a driving campaign “who would be the better driver: Henry, Merle or Yondu?”

He laughed and went through each character stating that “Henry would be hitchhiking, Yondu probably spent some time on Earth and acquired a southern accent, but Merle would probably be the better driver.”

After a few more questions we all stepped to the lobby for a photo op with Michael and then got about 3 minutes each to talk to him.

Showing off Mini Merle to the camera.

Admiring my “Ewoking Dead” shirt.

When I had my time with Michael I told him about Fandads and asked him if being a parent changed his acting in any way.  He answered, “No, it changed what I allow them to watch or what I watch on tv…but my work and my acting is, that’s what it is.”

I also asked him about what his favorite comic is and he answered “Guardians of the Galaxy” because he likes “the old retro” and if he ever stink palmed anyone and he answered “no, but (was) in pretend life” referencing Mallrats.

He was a really cool guy and seemed to enjoy hanging out with us as he joked around and took pictures with the people in attendance.

Michael Rooker is on a hot streak right now coming off “The Walking Dead” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” and I think this web series will take off and be successful too.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see him battle some zombies again?

Here is the first video in the “Driving Dead” series and you can engage with the show on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.


Michael Rooker is in town for the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con being held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center this weekend.

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