LOS ANGELES -- Michael Rooker's Guardians of the Galaxy character, Yondu, has been surprisingly popular with moviegoers, just as the franchise itself has been.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Yondu's role is even bigger, more spectacular, and imbued with more depth.
Rooker, who has had other memorable roles -- Hal Tucker in Cliffhanger, Chick Gandhi in Eight Men Out, Henry in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (his movie debut), Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead, Jared Svenning in Mallrats -- said in an interview that he credits his management team, his instincts, and, ultimately, luck for how he continues not only to find work, but to land such a wide array of interesting roles.
"You make the choice, either to do the project or not do the project," Rooker said. "To have the [right] project presented to you at the [right] time is a stroke of luck, because you never know. I don't do every project that's out there. I'm convinced I'm missing some wonderful projects. But, on the other hand, in the end, I have to decide which ones I do out of those I get.
"Those are my choices. Many of my friends who are actors have not had those choices. They've had the other choices, which I've had as well. Because, guess what? You've got to pay the mortgage.
"Then, in between the bad ones, hopefully there are some good ones. I have been so very fortunate to have had so few bad ones. It blows my mind. When I look back at my resumé, I go, 'Bad one. Good. Good. Good. Good. Very bad one. Good. Good. Good. Good.' When you realize there's not a lot of good ones, I've been very fortunate."
Rooker said a prominent, well-received, expanded role in the Guardians sequel could only lead to even more golden opportunities down the line.
"I think that this project is going to garner ... some really wonderful scripts coming my way -- and it would be wonderful if that were to happen," he said. "I can't force it to happen."
He said that he's pleased that Yondu is presented as a force to be reckoned with, but that fans will get to see some more depth to the character, as well.
"He's a badass," Rooker said. "But this time, there's a vulnerability that's there. You know? You see that vulnerable side -- and, of course, in the film, there are others who see that, as well -- and see it as a weakness."
Rooker said the seeds for the foster-=father-son dynamic with Chris Pratt's Star-Lord -- emphasized and expanded on in Vol. 2 -- were sown in the last scene of the original film, when Star-Lord tricks Yondu out of a powerful Infinity stone.
"He [Yondu] has this s—eating grin on his face," Rooker said. "In my opinion, that says: That's my boy. He did it to me. He tricked me! That means he's getting good! Because I trained him all his life to be a thief and a renegade and to do his own thing and be his own man, and for him to get one over on me, to be that good, well that's the proudest moment of a father's life."
Which is why when Star Lord's all-powerful biological father Ego, played by Kurt Russell, comes into the picture, it creates more than a little friction. There is also tension between Yondu and Sylvester Stallone's character, Stakar Ogord, a fellow Reaver who has never forgiven Yondu for something the latter did long ago.
If Yondu's emotions take a beating in this film, it is in contrast to his physical abilities and his special arrow. It's clear he is one of the most formidable characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"Yondu is an extremely powerful character," Rooker said. "I feel it with my heart, my spirit, and soul. That's what makes his arrow fly. It's why, when he got really angry, his arrow caught fire, because it was expressing the inner fire in him at that moment."
Rooker said he felt the character's unlikely bond with Rocket was an extremely strong, emotional part of the film.
"Both of our physical bodies have been abused and used as younger beings. That's what makes Rocket who Rocket is and Yondu who Yondu is," he concluded. "Because that abuse, that tough upbringing, it changes you into who you are -- and how you decide to react in certain given situations. So they have a special bond because of that."