Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker, who is known for portaying Yondu Udonta, has revealed he almost played a different character due to The Walking Dead schedule.
In a recent discussion at GalaxyCon Richmond (via ComicBook), Rooker admitted he was almost given a smaller role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film due to his commitments to The Walking Dead at the time. However, once he found out that the zombie series would be killing his character Merle Dixon off, he spoiled the surprise to land the role of Yondu.
“I called James Gunn up and said, ‘I can do Yondu now,'” Rooker said. “I was at the airport and James and I had just spoken, and we were like, ‘Oh man, shit, 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,'” Rooker added. “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, ‘Shit, yeah!!’ And that’s how it worked out.”
During the discussion, Rooker revealed he was going to play the character of Korath the Pursuer, who was later played by Djimon Hounsou in Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel. Rooker went on to portray Yondu in Guardians, before being killed off in Guardians Vol. 2 after sacrificing himself to save Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).