5:00am PT by Patrick Shanley
Before 'Guardians of the Galaxy': When James Gunn Was a Judge on a Reality Show
The on-set Hollywood romance is one of the most time-honored traditions in all of entertainment. Under the hot glow of stage lights, surrounded by onlookers munching stale bagels from the nearby craft-services table, many a blossoming love has flowered.
No such love story is more endearing than that of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and his Alabamian muse, Michael Rooker. The filmmaker and star have been fast friends for over a decade, when Rooker starred in Gunn's 2006 creature-feature directorial debut, Slither.
From that soil of grotesque alien mutation sprouted the sturdy oak of friendship, which has only grown stronger over the years. Rooker has appeared in each of Gunn's subsequent features, including a breakout role as the blue-skinned Ravager Yondu in 2014's Guardians, a role he reprises in this year's sequel.
The relationship between the two has been on display to savvy fans for years, and nowhere is it more evidently exhibited than in a recently surfaced clip from the short-lived 2008 VH1 reality series Scream Queens. The competition program pitted 10 actresses against one another for a coveted role in an upcoming horror film (Saw VI). Gunn, hot off the heels of his feature debut, served as one of the judges on the program. (It's enjoyable to see Gunn, now one of the hottest directors in Hollywood, having fun on a reality show).
In the clip, Gunn welcomes special guest Rooker to the competition to act alongside the would-be "scream queens" in a vignette involving scantily clad vampires.
"This is my good buddy, Michael Rooker," a smiling Gunn says, introducing the khaki-sporting future Guardian of the Galaxy to the roster of aspiring actresses.
"Rooker, you were my favorite actor for many, many years, true?" asks Gunn. "I don't know, is that true?" replies Rooker. "Until I met you, yes," responds Gunn.
Rooker has been a character actor in Hollywood for over three decades, with over 100 credits adorning his tome-length résumé. Gunn, however, had a less traditional route to stardom, with many surprised by his accession to the helm of a Marvel franchise film, given his short list of directorial credits, which, at the time, featured a handful of shorts and a moderately successful sci-fi horror flick (the aforementioned Slither).
The clip continues to showcase the pair's affinity for one another, firing quips at each other that only true friends would (or could, honestly). When one actress comments that she loves the negligee she is wearing for the scene, Gunn states that Rooker shares the same fashion tastes. "I caught you in your trailer on Slither wearing just such outfits," the director jokes before adding in a hushed whisper, "Rooker's a transvestite."
"You promised not to tell!" Rooker cries.
Later, Rooker has a few questions for his director. "If they bite me, do I become a vampire?" he asks Gunn.
"Yeah, you do," Gunn replies. "If they bite you, you become an even bigger asshole." Rooker playfully chokes him in return.
Gunn's chiding continues, but Rooker is always game to fire back. "Look at this guy, he gets no girls whatsoever," Gunn tells the actress near Rooker as she has makeup applied to her fangs. "Don't believe him, he's just the director," Rooker tells her. "We own this set."
Despite their sometimes biting repartee, the love between the two is always there. "When I saw Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, I said, 'That's the world's greatest actor,' " says Gunn. "I tried to cast him in a million things."
As always, however, the snark was quick to follow: "Everyone said he was difficult and too hard to work with." When Rooker asks why, Gunn quickly responds, "Because you are. You're freakish."
If that's not love, than what is?
Watch the video below.