Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn Wishes Michael Rooker a Happy Birthday

Today is Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker's 65th birthday. Rooker has long been friends [...]

Today is Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker's 65th birthday. Rooker has long been friends with Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, appearing in many of Gunn's films. Gunn took to social media to wish Rooker a happy birthday. "#HappyBirthday, Michael Rooker," Gunn tweeted with a collection of photos of Rooker from over the years. "Over 15 years, countless countries, 7 movies, a video game, web series & 2 reality shows, you've been a great friend. I can't believe I haven't seen you in over a month because of self-isolation - that might be a record for us. Love you, buddy."

Rooker plays Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He revealed at a recent convention appearance that his commitment to playing Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead almost kept him from that role. He would have instead played the role of Korath the Pursuer. But then he found out Merle would be killed off.

"I called James Gunn up and said, 'I can do Yondu now,'" the actor said at GalaxyCon Richmond in March. "I was at the airport and James and I had just spoken, and we were like, 'Oh man, sh-t, this Walking Dead thing is still going on. You're shooting the film, Guardians 1, right when we're filming the season.' And so I was gonna play another role in Guardians of the Galaxy.

"I looked at the dates, and they said to me, 'This is so top secret. Don't tell a soul. Don't let this out to anyone,' I said, 'Absolutely, no problem!' I left that conversation and I got out my cell phone, I said, 'Hey Gunn, guess what? They just killed my ass off, dude. I can do Yondu.' And he goes, 'Sh-t, yeah!!' And that's how it worked out."

Marvel Studios' upcoming releases include Black Widow opening on November 6th; The Eternals on February 12, 2021; Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on May 5, 2021; Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on November 5, 2021; Thor: Love and Thunder on February 18, 2022; Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022; and Captain Marvel 2 on July 8, 2022. Upcoming Disney+ additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe include The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If...?, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight.