Alyssa Pack writes for Bleeding Cool;
The Walking Dead panel was the busiest and most anticipated panel at Wizard World Portland, with planned guests Norman Redus and Michael Rooker driving fans to line up an hour and a half before the panel even started.
The Walking Dead mania at the Portland Comic-Con was seen in little children dressed up as the character Darryl Dixon, and zombies the prevalent theme for dressing up, even if it was as Star Trek zombies. The applause then when Michael Rooker (Walking Dead character “Merle Dixon”) entered the room, egged on by moderator (and sidekick for the panel) Jesse Blaze Snider, was loud enough to be heard outside by the congoers who couldn’t get in. (The room reached capacity with not one seat left unfilled, and many standing in the back.)
Snider started off simply by opening the floor to questions which Rooker was more then happy to answer in a snarky cocky manner that fit what people love about his character Merle. Rooker was quick to defend Merle’s character, and said that he didn’t think the character had done anything wrong. Even when asked about beating the character Glenn (played by Steven Yuen) in the episode When the Dead Come Knocking his only response was “Glenn deserved it!”
Snider immediately told everyone to hit Twitter with “#Michael Rooker hates Asians!” Taking the ribbing in good stride Michael Rooker didn’t backpedal on the joke or his comment saying he doesn’t hate Asians, nor does Merle, Merle just hates people who disagree with him. “If you look at the scene Merle lowered his gun first, and Glenn keeps his gun on him. And the longer he does that the madder Merle gets, till he had to do something!”
Rooker was asked a wide array of questions, addressing his long acting career, voicing video games as a new field he’s in, and how he is looking forward to the new Walking Dead game. His longest running joke was that most often he replied to any questions about motivation or reason he acts as being very simple “I get paid.”
“Would you do more video games?”
Rooker’s response “If they pay me,” with a smile and a laugh.
His jovial tone only got slightly serious when he was asked why he always a “heavy” character in terms of attitude and he related a story about how he discovered that everyone, even at a young age, was scared at him. “It was a really snowy cold day, and I’m walking through a neighborhood, big army jacket on, big boots, wind just gusting at me, so I’ve got this pissed off look on my face. And as I walk by cars with people in them I notice they all make the same motion (using their elbows to lock their doors). And I keep on walking. And every car I pass same thing, with even some of them reaching to lock their back doors! And the more doors I pass the madder I get. Each door locked, more anger, and as I passed each car I just look madder and madder and that was the day I realized … people are afraid of me, just looking at me. They think I’m a bad guy! So how can I use that? I’ll become an actor! Because I know lots of ‘bad’ actors!”
He also had nothing but nice words for his co-star Danai Gurira (who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead). “She’s so nice and pretty. I think if Merle hates black people he’s really reconsidering it after meeting her! I mean the sword, the attitude, they are perfect for each other! So they tried to kill each other, big deal!”
When asked what the character Merle missed most about the world from before the apocalypse, Rooker could only offer up, to shoots of “Your hand!”, “No! Merle doesn’t miss his hand! He misses…” then noticing children in the crowd, “something I can’t talk about with little ears here.”
In particular Rooker got a lot of female questions, in particular from three different girls at different points in the panel, each dressed as ponies from My Little Pony. Rooker took their costume choices in stride which moderator Snider could not do, commenting “You should really do voice work for My Little Pony!” Rooker had to laugh at this adding “Try and fucking mount me!”
Snider began a lighting round of questions for Rooker with only ten minutes left in the panel. A few minutes in, Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, and was Murphy MacManus in the Boondock Saint films) joined Rooker on stage and questions were encouraged from this point to only be for both of them for the ten
minutes they had left. Reedus fielded the first question, “Which brother would win in a fight?”, with “Merle. In fact lets just get this out of the way for every question like that. Whose tougher? Rooker. Who is better looking? Rooker. Who has a bigger dick? Rooker.” The jovial and tongue in check humor continued with perhaps the most deadpan response of the panel from Reedus.
“If Rick were to die, and the Dixon brothers end up in charge what is the first thing they would do?” “One word: orgy.” The response made the entire audience bust out into laughter including Rooker who couldn’t help shooting: “Finally Merle gets some action!”
The two actors continued taking questions and giving sarcastic and fun responses till Snider had to tell everyone the Rooker and Reedus needed to be elsewhere, but the actors left to a standing ovation.