Rooker was born in 1955 in Jasper, Alabama. When he was 13, his parents divorced and he went with his mother to live in Chicago. He caught the acting bug while attending college, and began appearing in local stage productions. On first breaking into film, his intensity and "don't-mess-with-me" good looks were highlighted to chilling effect as the title character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), filmed in 1986 but, due to its controversial nature, not released until 1990. Since that widely noticed and highly praised performance, much of his career has been spent playing brutes, villains, and psychopaths. His occasional turns as a "good guy," however, are always well-acted and a welcome change for a talented actor too often typecast.
He has also appeared in numerous films such as Mississippi Burning (1988), Cliffhanger (1993) (opposite Rex Maynard Linn), Mallrats (1995), The Bone Collector (1999), The 6th Day (2000), and Slither (2006). Like his Cliffhanger co-star Craig Fairbrass, he has also appeared twice in the popular Call of Duty franchise as himself in Call of the Dead, a map for Black Ops (2010), and providing the voice of Harper in Black Ops II (2012).
He has also appeared in various TV series, including Tremors: The TV Series, where he played a mob henchman.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- The Bone Collector
- Mississippi Burning
- Eight Men Out
- The Dark Half
- Renegade Force
- The Replacement Killers
- He jokes that Merle and Michonne would have become a couple had the former stayed alive in an interview.
- He has stated in interviews that he wished more of Daryl and Merle's backstory was explored before Merle died and has wished that Daryl and Merle shared more screen time together.
- Blast-Zone Interview by Mike Wilkerson (January 23, 2013)