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Panel Name: Beyond the Walkers! – Walking Dead
Topic: Rooker being Rooker, Interaction between walkers and cast, Q&A
Featured Guests: Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon), Michael Koske (walker), William Hart (walker), Vincent Gonzales (Assistant Director)
Ah, back at it at the 3rd Annual Denver Comic Con. Friday’s programming began, for us, with a panel featuring The Walking Dead‘s Merle Dixon, Michael Rooker. After writing a “Respect My Craft” on him, we learned how much fun he is at panels, and how much he loves his fans. This was our first taste of Michael Rooker and, accompanied by two of the show’s long-time walkers and former Assistant Director Vincent Gonzales, they put on an entertaining and informative show for the us.
The convention was Rooker’s first time in Denver, and he had good things to say about the Mile High City. The first thing Rooker commented on was that this city has a whole lot of tattoos, and was impressed that we get around 300 days of sunshine a year (this is a debatable claim, but let’s just say that we get a butt-load of sunny days here). However, Rooker believes that, as a city, we have poor eyesight when he heard chants of “Rooker!” when asked who was the better looking star, he or cast-mate Norman Reedus.
This was the type of rhetoric Rooker had throughout the panel. From the get-go, he wrestled the spotlight away from the moderator (poor guy), introducing guests, asking the other guests questions and leading the overall discussion. It was awesome to watch, and even though the panel really became about him, he did a great job of interacting with the other panelists. Rooker and Co. go into detail about exactly how hard these actors work – all day long in over 100 degree weather, caked with “sexy dirt.” Nothing was more grueling or rewarding than the fight scenes.
Guest walker Michael Koske has played 43 different zombies on the show, more than any other walker on the show. His favorite scene was at Woodbury, when Merle and Martinez were putting on a show in the zombie pit. Rooker made more of a joke about the situation, but long story short, when they were choreographing the fight, Rooker got caught up in the moment and accidentally clocked Koske in the face with his metal stump of an arm. It wasn’t the first time either. Koske mentioned that actors will regularly get in a good lick or two, trying to make the stuntwork as realistic as possible. Did he complain? No, his biggest complaint is that he never gets the famous Death Dinner all his posthumous cast-mates did – a privilege that Rooker says gets revoked when you die 43 times.
The Q&A section of the panel was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a whole lot straight answers, just a whole lot of smart-ass answers to generic questions – true Rooker style. Who is your favorite actor on the show? Michael Rooker. Who from the show would you pick to be in your group of the zombie apocalypse? The fattest, slowest people – so all of them. How do you have your hand back now after you lost it in the show? I’m part lizard. Alarmingly, a lot of parents sent their little children up to ask questions. Who is letting their young children watch this show? Sickos – like the parents of this sweet little girl who asked what went through Rooker’s mind when he was murdering people. Perhaps the best question, or answer, rather, was the response to what the actors took away from the veteran presence of Scott Wilson (Herschel). William Hart, who had been quiet up to that point said, “I got his leg.”
At the end of the panel, we were in love with Michael Rooker and his ability to not take himself seriously, but still recognize his position as a total rockstar at the con. He’s a swell guy with a deep respect for his work and the hard work of others. Continue to follow us as we cover Denver Comic Con!