How One “Walking Dead” Actor’s Racist Maniac Makes For Must-See TV

Michael Rooker only needed a handful of scenes to turn Merle Dixon into a fanboy favorite. But it was his real-world commitment to bringing the character to life that gave the AMC series its watercooler buzz.

Merle Dixon doesn’t do warm and fuzzy. The maniacal gun-slinging racist and nastier of two redneck brothers on AMC’s genre juggernaut, The Walking Dead, Merle achieved cult status last season after sawing off his hand to escape encroaching zombies. Considering his few scenes, the level of demand for Merle’s return surprised both the network and producers, and might not have happened were it not for the humanizing force of actor Michael Rooker

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