LOVE AND MONSTERS Exclusive Interview With Michael Rooker About His Samurai Sword-Wielding Survivor

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Michael Rooker to discuss his role in Love and Monsters, how Clyde compares to The Walking Dead's Merle, and a whole lot more besides...

Interviews Opinion

Love and Monsters premieres at home and in select theaters on tomorrow from Paramount Pictures, and takes place seven years after the "Monsterpocalypse." Humanity has been forced to hide underground, but Joel (Dylan O'Brien) decides to embark on a dangerous mission to reunite with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) after reconnecting with her over the radio. However, with dangerous monsters standing in his way, their reunion isn't going to be an easy one. 

Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War) are also part of the cast, and we recently caught up with the former to discuss his role in the movie. 

It goes without saying that speaking to the legendary actor was an absolute blast, and he was kind enough to take the time to talk in detail about his role as Clyde in this touching action-adventure. As someone who knows his way around a world full of monsters, he's one of the movie's most interesting characters, and it's a role that presents him with the chance to allow some new sides of his personality to shine through.

Among the topics covered here are what it was like to work with O'Brien and Greenblatt, getting the chance to do some improv on set, and whether he would be open to returning to this world for a sequel.
 

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So many of the characters in Love and Monsters are hiding underground, so what is it about Clyde you think makes him someone who doesn't shy away from braving the Monsterpocalypse?

You know what, I think when all this started happening, there were probably large groups of people that either chose to stay above ground or there was not enough room for them in the bunkers. These folks like Clyde and his family and the groups he's been with, it sounds like they've all perished, so there's not a lot of people living above ground. There are just little bits and pieces of colonies still above ground, so I really enjoyed that. I love nature and it was really kind of a blast to play a character that makes his life living above ground and this environment. There are no showers anymore, and you've got to hunt for your food, know how to build a fire, and know how to survive in nature. That's my big thing as well, and I really dug it. To read about this character in the script, I was like, 'Oh my Gosh, I love this.' I was looking the part as well as I had just come off a project where I had grown my hair and beard, so I said to myself, 'This is a shoe in and I'm going to eat this role up.' I enjoyed the heck out of being out there in Australia where even little spiders can do you in [Laughs]. They've got the most dangerous creatures and then the most loveable ones: the koala bears! There are just so many different aspects of that continent. It's a beautiful place to work and be. I loved it, man. 

With someone like Merle in The Walking Dead, who only cared about himself, and maybe his brother, was it exciting for you to play a character here who was so willing to take on that father figure-type role to Joel and Minnow? 

Wasn't it great? It was really, really cool. I felt that in this world, you don't see a lot of people, so the ones you do get to see, you treat well. 'Oh, why don't you come hang with us?' Clyde invites Joel to come with us, you know? He's got his own agenda as he's looking for the love of his life in the middle of all this craziness and it's really rewarding to see someone like that in this environment I think and it what a great group of characters. Ariana, my fellow actor, what a joy. It's tough for actors to play opposite children because they just steal the scene instantly [Laughs] when their cute little faces and mugs start talking. You go, 'Well, there goes that scene. It's no longer mine.' Then, I had a double whammy with the dog too! You're dealing with an adorable four-legged creature and a child, so what can I do? I said, 'Okay, give me a samurai sword. Give me some stuff so I can do something to play this role and have people notice how cool a character it is.' It was just a blast. 

You mentioned Ariana, and she's got such a powerful presence in the film and is so quick-witted - 

She was the smartest human on set! Hero was the smartest animal out there, period. The dog was so well-trained. The dog was better trained than what I had in theater school. It probably had better training than I had [Laughs]. That's terrible. I shouldn't say that. I had great teachers, but the dog was just amazing. 
 


When you you first met Ariana, how long did it take you to develop that rapport, as the way you bounce off each other here is just great? 

It was instant. Absolutely instant. As soon as we met for the reading, it was a perfect combination with Dylan as well, and it was great. We had an instant rapport, and we started bouncing off each other right away. It was great. 

I know you mentioned suggesting the samurai sword, but when you're working on a project like this, do you get a lot of freedom with improv when you're bouncing off actors like Ariana and Dylan? 

We totally do. We did. During the New York Comic-Con Q&A, our director said that during the first fifteen minutes on set, he was like, 'Oh my God, what am I going to do? I have to reign these people in! They're just everywhere!' [Laughs] That was part of the preparation, though. Learning to deal with each other and joke with each other, and bounce ideas off each other and have fun chatting and putting each other down and laughing about it...what a great time. The poor director, Michael, [Laughs], he's wondering what he's going to do here, and all of this is happening before any scenes started. Once the scene started, that just spilled right over, so our rapport in real-life spilled into the characters and vice versa. That's how all that worked. 

What was it like for you to find yourself in this world that's set in the middle of an apocalypse, but also has a tonne of heart that's equally as important to the story? 

There's apocalyptic stuff everywhere. Our movie is about a monster apocalypse, and that world is there as our setting and backdrop, but there's still this beautiful, beautiful coming of age story. It's all about love and seeking out your path in this world. The characters are well drawn and well played I might add. I think people are going to get a big kick out of it and it really was a joy to watch. It's always a joy getting to see something all put together. We don't get to see that. We do it in bits and pieces, so when we the actors get to see it all put together, we're like, 'Yes!' Usually, we want to see that just like everybody else. We're big fans too. 

Finally, it feels like Love and Monsters definitely leaves the door open to a sequel or spinoffs, so is that something you would be excited to explore? 

Indeed, indeed, indeed, sir. That would be a joy and a pleasure. It would be so much fun just to get back into that environment again. What a beautiful setting. How gorgeous is the backdrop of Australia? It was amazing stuff, so I would totally be into that. You never know. If people love the piece and they go and they watch it and they enjoy it, there's a great possibility we'll get to go out and do some more of them.

I really hope so as the film was fantastic, and as a big fan of your work, it was great to speak to you, thanks, Michael!

Oh man, I've gotta tell you, Josh, it was a pleasure. Thank you, man, and you've seen it, hopefully your family will get to see it, and everybody is gonna get to enjoy it. It's a beautifully enjoyable project. 

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Check out the Love and Monsters trailer ahead of its release tomorrow below:
 

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