One of the most anticipated moments in this run of all-new episodes is the return of Merle Dixon, played by the great Michael Rooker, who hasn't been seen since Season 1. The actor was coy about when, exactly, he would be making his grand reentrance since being stranded on a zombie packed rooftop, which resulted in the loss of his hand. But he did share his thoughts on what's to come, calling Season 3, "Kick ass!"
Here is our conversation with the never bitten, never shy Merle Dixon (and if you read between the lines, you'll see that he hints at his eventual alliance with Rick and his prison inmates).
If you're still having meetings about the Walking Dead this far into shooting Season 3, I have to imagine Merle Dixon won't be taking the bite anytime soon?
Michael Rooker: (Laughs) Look, Merle is back this season. I am back! I start fairly early on in the season, but I can't assume anything. I don't think you should either. What I will say is that I will be a pleasant surprise for a lot of Merle fans!
The guy is a survivor, so that will come as both a surprise and a shock if this guy ends up tangling with the wrong zombie...
Michael Rooker: You know it! Yes, Merle is a survivor, that is for sure. Him and his brother, both. But in particular, Merle. This guy was tough as nails already, and then he lived through all that stuff that happened on the rooftop. All the stuff that has happened to him, and the stuff that he did in-between the rooftop and when we meet him again in Season 3...You will learn that it is very cool stuff. It's all very cool. I've been having a good time.
This impending reunion, and the resulting relationship between Merle and his brother is sure to bring forth one of the most interesting dynamics in television this year. How do you think their union is going to be affected by their recent past experiences apart?
Michael Rooker: You are right. A lot of people are intrigued by this relationship. It's because most of us have siblings of our own. This brings forth the question, what would you do in a zombie apocalypse? How would you relate with your family and your siblings, if you all survived the initial disease. As I see it right now, it's just him and me, from our family...I guess...Its kind of cool. Its cool that out of all these people in the group...Well, you have Hershel and his daughters...But, yeah...As Merle would call her, Blonde had a sister. But not anymore. So, the brothers are quite a treat for fans. And the fans will love this relationship that continues to evolve. They want to see how it will go, for sure.
How handy is this new wrist appendage of Merles'? Will we see him put it to good use in terms of slaughtering a few of the undead?
Michael Rooker: Dude, this thing is handy as hell, man! You can eat with it, you can sleep with it, and you can defend yourself with it, and kill zombies with it. You can cut through watermelons with it! All kinds of stuff.
How far into shooting Season 3 are you guys? Do you already have the first half completed?
Michael Rooker: No! We still have some big stuff to do. We have some big scenes left to shoot. We are working our butts off on this. We are probably around the half season mark. I don't even know. I don't even know what day it is. I think I completely missed Saturday. I think Saturday has come and gone, and I didn't even realize it! Though, I am enjoying this while I can. People are really digging this show. It's really a wonderful thing to be a part of. All the great writers, and all the really cool actors that are on the show, and everybody else, we all work so well together, and its kick-ass, man. It's an awesome, awesome time!
Are you going to return in the first episode of the new season?
Michael Rooker: I'm not allowed to say if I am in the first, second, third, forth, fifth...I actually do reappear in the series. It is in Season 3. They will play it out. Our first episode begins October 13th, or 14th, whichever it is, but I am not allowed to comment on when I come back. Where it will happen. Which episode I come back in. I am not allowed to comment on characters and relationships, all the stuff like that. But everybody already knows that Merle is back in Season 3. I'll tell you what. It's going to be a fucking awesome time.
Entertainment Weekly gave some things up, I don't know if you read that article...
Michael Rooker: Yeah, they gave some things up. (Laughs) They let everyone else talk about the show, but they don't let us talk about it. How funny is that shit? (Laughs) Entertainment Weekly gave it away so early, everyone has forgotten about it. People will still be surprised! This is an awesome show, and everyone is having a great time. I'm having a great time, even though it's been really hot over the summer. This summer was so hot! Shit, its just craziness! Craziness! Going from Hypothermia to Atlanta is extreme, the differences!