Tim reviews the music biopic “Get on Up,” starring Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, with Diana Pierce on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis. See the review of the film, along with a review of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” on KARE and on BringMeTheNews.com. You can also hear Tim review the films on radio segments on KQRS 92.5 FM (7:10 in) and K-TWIN 96.3 FM.
Like his acclaimed role as the anti-hero, Merle Dixon, in “The Walking Dead,” Michael Rooker is finding himself in the middle again – but this time he’s a blue-skinned alien in Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” light years away from the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic Earth of the popular AMC series.
Rooker’s “Galaxy” character, Yondu, is interesting in that he’s not an out-an-out bad guy, and in some ways, he has a propensity to be good. Walking that fine line is something Rooker, 59, has not only enjoyed in several projects throughout his storied career, but his whole life, and director James Gunn wanted to tap into that experience.
“James wanted to write something for me that I’m good at — I’m good at doing bad things and still having people like me,” Rooker told me, laughing, in a recent interview. “Even as a 10- or 12-year-old, I’d be doing something bad, like climbing trees, and people would yell at me for doing it yet be smiling at the same time. I never understood what was going on with them. The great thing is, it still happening. James wanted to me to have the ability to say and do anything on screen and still have people like me, and dig the performance and dig the way I do it.”
Rooker brings a good ol’ boy approach to Yondu, a space pirate who takes Peter Quill from Earth as a young boy after his mother’s death. After growing up and learning the ways of Yondu’s group, the Ravagers, Quill (Chris Pratt) betrays his mentor and keeps for himself a mysterious orb he’s stolen from a powerful space lord, only to learn the sphere holds powers far greater than he ever could have imagined.
Like his fellow “Galaxy” cast mates (including Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel), Rooker has the unenviable task of portraying a beloved character whose origins date back more than four decades in the original Marvel comic books. And while he respects the fan’s opinions, Rooker said it was a necessity to make changes with the character of Yondu for the sake of the film.
“I don’t really worry about all of the rea
ctions, but of course, it’s always there in the back of my head,” Rooker said. “I know there will be some people who will be disappointed that Yondu doesn’t have a big fin on the top of his head, but they have to realize the roof on my spaceship is pretty low. I would have had to duck when I was walking around for the entire production. The change was decided before I got there, and basically I had to take what was in the script and run with it.”
For anyone familiar with his character in “The Walking Dead,” Rooker has been the subject of makeup artists before as a zombified Merle, so he knew was he was in for to turn Yondu blue.
“We’d start with a three hours of makeup, then we had a little break for food before more makeup and wardrobe, so in total, it was about five-and-a-half hours each time,” Rooker recalled. “That’s not so bad. For my role in ‘Slither’ (a 2006 horror comedy, which was also directed by Gunn), it took seven hours to put on and two-and-a-half to take off. Yondu’s makeup only took 45 minutes to take off.”
And while extensive makeup is a part of the job that some actors dread, Rooker said he loves the process and has absolutely no complaints about it.
“When I go to work, I get to go to a set. It’s like a 12-year-old kid saying goodbye to his parents, running out the door and playing all day long, and coming back for supper at night,” Rooker enthused. “That’s my life now. When I go to the set, it’s like going to a playground and doing all kinds of stuff.”
And lucky for Rooker, those sets have been filled with a variety of roles in several different genres.
“With ‘Guardians’ I get to be a blue alien who whistles to use a great weapon. In ‘Eight Men Out’ I got to play baseball all day long and on ‘Days of Thunder’ I got to drive race cars. In ‘Henry (Portrait of a Serial Killer)’ I got to kill people,” Rooker said with a laugh. “You get to use your imagination all these sorts of crazy, creative ways. Some ways are quite dramatic, some are hokey and some are fun. You just get to go everywhere.”
Never mind the Transformers: There’s definitely more than meets the eye with the pale-green, tattoo-covered strongman Drax the Destroyer in the new Marvel superhero action adventure “Guardians of the Galaxy” — and the star who plays him, Dave Bautista, couldn’t be any more thrilled over complexities of the time-honored comic book character.
Bautista, who made his mark in the past 15 years in the WWE and MMA, told me in a recent interview that he loves doing movies and being given the opportunity to play a flawed, emotional character who walks the fine line between bad and good. After all, Bautista noted, playing such a dynamic role is something few actors get an opportunity to do.
“That was cool thing, giving not only Drax, but all of the Guardians range. It just makes the characters that much more interesting. It was really cool to see that story because, really, at the beginning, they were all A-holes,” Bautista said, laughing. “They’re a bunch of misfits and definitely not Boy Scouts. But I think that’s what makes them easy to relate to. They’ve all got baggage and chips on their shoulders. They don’t even like each other, but at one point they all bind together for a greater cause other than focus on their own problems and issues with one another.”
In “Guardians of the Galaxy” opening in theaters nationwide Friday in 2D and 3D, Bautista embodies Drax, a muscle-bound space warrior hell-bent on exacting revenge on Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), a powerful, ruthless space villain who killed his wife and child.
Eloquent and sincere, yet sometimes maniacal and menacing, Drax, thankfully, is in good company. Deeply flawed like his fellow “Galaxy” outlaws — Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) — Drax is also willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good and willing to do whatever it takes to save the lives of billions of people if a
mysterious orb they’re trying to prevent from falling into the wrong hands.
The interesting thing about playing Drax for Bautista is that in real life, the actor says he’s much like the character in terms of how he’s perceived. Feelings are feelings, no matter what body possesses them, he said, and the fact that Drax is from another world is almost irrelevant.
“That emotion is what gives Drax his soul. He’s not just a one-note strong warrior,” Bautista explained. “When I compare him to me, it’s like this: When you look at him you think one thing, but when you talk with him, you think another. A lot of times people want to slap a label on you. When you’re with something like the WWE, they perceive you a different way, even though it’s not true to who I am.”
Of course, Drax’s outer appearance is quite a bit more jarring, Bautista admitted.
“When you look at him, he’s just scary,” Bautista said, laughing. “He’s scary, menacing and intimidating. But when you get to know his story, you learn that it all stems from the loss of his family. He really is heartbroken and not just out for revenge for the hell of it. He’s really doesn’t have anywhere else to channel that pain. ”
Since the history of Drax’s character in the Marvel comic book world dates back more than 40 years, Bautista said he had also had to weather the perception of diehard fans and their criticisms as the project was starting to come together. And while it appears the fan base has fully accepted him now, Bautista, 45, says that wasn’t the case at first.
“There was a bit of backlash not only when it was announced that I had the role, but even before, when word got out that I was in the running for it,” Bautista recalled. “When I was in the audition process, a lot of comic book fans who were not happy. They wanted a very serious, established actor playing their beloved Drax. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted their approval. It means something to me. I’m a fanboy the same way they are. I want them to be proud and think that I did Drax justice.”
These days, Bautista continues to enjoy the fun byproducts of being associated with the character, including the ultimate fanboy boy honor — being turned into an action figure.
Of course, the burning question is, since Bautista has already had WWE action figures produced in his likeness, will there be an ultimate showdown between one of those and his new Hasbro 6-inch figure of Drax? And if so, which figure has the upper hand?
“I have to go with Drax,” Bautista said with a laugh. “At the end of the day he’s a superhero – a knife-wielding superhero.”
And the way it looks of things, there’s bound to be more action figures of Bautista as Drax, especially considering the fact that in the film’s end credits, it’s announced that the “Guardians of the Galaxy” will return. Bautista said he’s looking forward to playing the Drax once again, and if he gets his druthers, the Guardians will be seen even more in an extended sort of capacity.
“Marvel has so much material to work with, and so many interesting characters, superheroes and stories that a lot of times intertwine,” Bautista observed. “Speaking just as a fanboy, I hope all these stories start intertwining. I’m looking forward to the sequel to see what happens to these characters from here. We’re all speculating, but I think everybody wants to get a bigger look at (‘Guardians’ villain) Thanos and see what he’s about. It’s cool, man. It’s fun.”
Tim reviews the sci-fi thriller “Lucy” with Diana Pierce on KARE 11 TV (NBC) in Minneapolis. See the review of the film, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, below. You can also read the print version of the review, along with a review of the animated adventure, “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” on BringMeTheNews.com.