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He’s one of pop culture’s great tough guys: a wise-cracking, grizzled character actor who has carved a career playing troubled men.

Now Michael Rooker is about to go blue, da ba de da ba di.

The 58-year-old best known for playing Merle on The Walking Dead has teamed up with ‘good buddy’ James Gunn to star as blue alien Yondu in one of the most anticipated films of the year: Guardians Of The Galaxy.

From one fan favourite to another, Rooker said the experience was one of a kind and that hopefully he’ll get to continue on as part of the Marvel universe.

“Coming straight from working on The Walking Dead to that set… People tell me Merle has moved on to Marvel heaven,” he said.

“I’m definitely a happy camper. It’s a beautiful group of creative individuals and I’m happy to be involved in plenty of their projects if there’s more to come.”

Guardians is the third time Rooker has reunited with Gunn on a project after Slither and Super, and the American actor said the shoot was more like hanging out than a big budget extravaganza.

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“James is a buddy and we have a great friendship, so getting to hang out with each other at work didn’t feel like work,” he said.

“We have a good working relationship that our friends find fascinating.

“For me, it’s amazing to get to work with a director who’s also a person I like.”

No stranger to big budget fare, the Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer star said he did have to get used the scale and intricacies of the Marvel superhero universe.

“I spent six hours sitting in make-up and wardrobe every day before I even got in front of the camera, so by the time I was out of that chair I was ready to work,” he said.

“There are some really cool action sequences and stunts in the film, and I enjoyed the fact that everyone – every character – had something to do.

“The crew was stellar and everyone was happy to be there, especially enjoying the London pubs afterwards.”

Rooker is coming to Australia for the first time as a guest of the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and pubs seem to be a running theme for the actor, who said he’s looking forward to trying some “Australian beer”.

As for what’s next, having worked with Sylvester Stallone on Cliffhanger and Arnold Schwarzenegger on The 6th Day it seems like only a matter of time before the still-buff 50-something is roped into an Expendables film.

“I don’t know if they can afford me,” he joked.

“Maybe that’s the problem because Sly and all the other guys have taken all the budget.

“I think it would be a lot of fun but I’m not sure if my muscles are big enough. I mean, I’ve got some but they’re not Terry Crews big.

“I could play a normal role in it, but then again, if Mel Gibson beefed up then maybe I could.”

Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.