SLiTHER: The Legendary Michael Rooker

Courtesy of bloody-disgusting.com
SLiTHER: Star Michael Rooker
By: Elaine Lamkin
Originally published March 2006

I have interviewed Michael Rooker before, for the 25th anniversary of “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” (here) and approached that interview with some apprehension, having seen the movie many times and each time being freaked out by Rooker’s performance. But interviewing the real man is one of the funniest, most enjoyable experiences one could have and it’s too bad more people can’t have a chat with Michael Rooker.

Currently starring in “Dawn of the Dead” writer James Gunn’s directorial debut, the gross-out monster/zombie movie “SLiTHER”, Rooker plays Grant Grant, husband of the beautiful heroine, Starla (Elizabeth Banks), and the one who first introduces an alien virus into his small town, causing horrific results. Bloody-Disgusting spoke with him while he was attending the recent Fangoria Weekend of Horror Convention in Chicago.

BD: Hey there, Michael! How have you been? It’s been too long since we last spoke – people are going to start gossiping.

MR: Hi girl! What have you been up to? It has been a while and really, this phone sex thing has got to stop (laughs).

BD: Really! The FBI may tap one of our phones and then the tabloids…what a nightmare!! I have to ask this question first as I didn’t know this about you. How did you and Darren Bousman become friends?

MR: Darren is a good buddy of mine and I met him through my wife’s brother’s friend, J. LaRose. He was in Darren’s first film. I haven’t seen “Saw II” yet though as I prefer musicals. Would love to do one!

BD: Musicals! “Henry” hoofing it in “West Side Story”? I say go for it! You’ve done every other genre.

MR: (laughs)

BD: Now I have to ask as James Gunn said this about you in a recent interview he did with Bloody-Disgusting. He described you as “an insane 3-year old trapped in an extremely fit 50-year old body” as well as one of “life’s eccentrics”. Is that an accurate description or is James now in serious trouble?

MR: (laughs) That is pretty spot on although I would have to argue that I’m more of an insane 7 or 8-year old. A 3-year old can’t really communicate that well and they could possibly have occasional bouts of incontinence.

BD: James also made a reference to a problem he may or may not have with impotency (I don’t know how many drinks those guys might have had during that interview) and that he blamed it on you. That any guy “would be impotent around Rooker”. Do I want to know about that?

MR: (laughs) Let’s just say that James, as well as every other cast member in “SLiTHER”, has “issues”.

BD: Now that more images are being released from “SLiTHER” and James discussed how no-holds-barred, in-your-face the film is as well as being pretty gross, what do you think about the fact that Universal is behind this?

MR: I think it’s amazing that Universal green-lighted this film and has really supported it. Also the fact that the film is a mixture of gross-out horror and comedy – and the comedy in “SLiTHER” comes from the extremes in it. It really is over-the-top but it was so much fun to do!

BD: I have read that “SLiTHER” is set in South Carolina but you filmed it in British Columbia and James went for an alt-country soundtrack. Also, that James chose Air Supply’s “Every Woman in the World” as Grant and Starla’s song but he said it was a creepy song to him. That any guy who would sing that song would be the type to go out and rape and kill a woman.

MR: It has really more of a Midwestern South atmosphere, like Southern Illinois. If you draw a line west from North or South Carolina, it will pretty much hit Southern Illinois. There’s none of that Deep South-ness to the movie.

As for that Air Supply song, there is one romantic scene between Grant and Starla and Gunn would get me “in the mood” by actually singing that song to me (laughs). This is getting into some weird territory…

BD: Okay, how about a more “normal” question? You’re back in Chicago where you grew up after moving from Alabama when you were 13. Are you going to spend a few extra days there after the convention is over?

MR: Actually I AM going to stay a few days as I’ve been invited to give a talk at my old theater school – DePaul University. As for my family, they didn’t know I was even coming to Chicago (laughs) – I was on a radio show this morning and my sister actually called in because she didn’t know I was in town! But she has to go out of town so I won’t get to see her this visit.

BD: Back in November when I was in LA (and we had talked about getting together for lunch), you broke my heart because you were in Shreveport, working on something. What project was that?

MR: I was finishing up on the first season of “Thief” with Andre Braugher. And girl, we’ll get together sometime. I promise.

BD: I also read that you have another horror film coming up – “The Sand”, with C. Thomas Howell and Casper Van Dien. What can you tell us about that? I read it is set in North Africa in 1942.

MR: Well, not much as I haven’t heard anything about that (speaking to someone else in room: “Hey, did you know I’m in a movie called “The Sand” but I haven’t gotten a script or gotten paid [laughs]?). I’d do it if they filmed in Arizona – don’t really care to go to Africa. All the tsetse flies and having to get 15 shots before you leave. No thanks.

BD: Thank you once again to the IMDb and their misinformation. So what do you have coming up, Michael?

MR: I’ve finished “Lenexa, 1 Mile” which is a coming-of-age sort of story. I play Russ, the heroic cop who takes people’s money but lets them go with a warning. And I’ve done another film entitled “Hellion” where I play one of a crew of kidnappers who kidnap someone they never should have messed with. This 14-year old boy who is total evil, has “ways” about him. The working title was “Whisper” so I don’t know how or even if it’s been listed yet.

BD: This weekend at the Fango convention is not your first panel for “SLiTHER” – what kind of reaction have you been getting from fans who may have already seen the film or just come to the panel to see you guys?

MR: Girl, I had NO idea I had such a fan base! When they introduce each one of us for the panel, I always get a standing ovation! It’s incredible and it’s certainly good for Universal.

And as for people who have seen the movie or will be seeing “SLiTHER”, let’s just say if you have any sexual issues before you see this movie, they will pale in comparison after you see it (laughs).

March 2006

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