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When you think of actor/ adventure seeker Michael Rooker, you may think of toughness and hilarity. As seen in films such as Tombstone, Days of Thunder, and more recently, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy duology, you can crack a smile or wither in your seat when that man’s on screen. But would you believe a backpack was all it took to make the man fall on the set of his latest film, Love and Monsters? Probably not, right? I mean you’d have to have a pretty heavy pack, and some extenuating circumstances to fall back on to topple The Rooker. Well, that’s exactly what happened on set, and he subsequent fall is a testament to the intensity Michael Rooker brings to life in general.
I was able to speak with both Rooker and Dylan O’Brien on behalf CinemaBlend in the run up to this weekend’s limited theatrical/VOD debut of Paramount’s Love and Monsters. And in speaking with O’Brien about his memories of working with Michael Rooker, there were obviously a lot of kind words and tales of how the energy between both men, as well as their co-star Ariana Greenblatt, made their week of shooting together an absolute blast. But in that particular conversation, Dylan O’Brien clued me into the story of the backpack incident:
I think he had like about an 80 lb backpack, on his back, on the whole first day of shooting, that he never said anything about. Until he just fell over laughing one time, because he couldn’t even pick it up; and we realized that props hadn’t taken actual weight out of that bag. He’s actually carrying a thing that weighs a ton.
Playing “the Obi-Wan” of Love and Monsters, as he likes to put it, Michael Rooker’s character, Clyde, acts as a mentor to Dylan O’Brien’s hopeless romantic/hero in training, Joel. A lot of journeying takes place once Joel is rescued by Clyde, and his young companion Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt,) and over time Joel is taught in the ways of dealing with the various creatures that make up the post-monsterpocalyptic landscape. So naturally, this is a character that knows how to pack for the end of the world, and that’s where this particular backpack’s weight comes into play.
Which leads to Michael Rooker’s side of the events that took place on the Love and Monsters set. Totally corroborating the fact that he did, indeed, have a bit of a fall, the road to such a fall is all the more interesting with the added context that Rooker lent to the moment. As it turns out, an 80-lb backpack was only the beginning of his worries, as some added gear was also included in the final lineup, and the demands of the scene provided the final, hysterical straw. As the actor noted:
They put all sorts of stuff in the backpack. It was 80 lbs, not counting the sword and the hatchet and all the other stuff outside the backpack and my belt! It was amazing. We were marching up this massive hill and there was a cut, and I just like clunk was just resting. It was nuts. And then, he didn’t even realize there was 80 lbs in there, until he’s like ‘Oh my god, this is really 80 lbs.’ … That’s the one they gave me, and that’s what I got. I was like, ‘OK, yeah, just leave it. It’s OK.’ It wasn’t that bad.
So not only was there an 80-pound backpack involved in Love and Monsters’ big Michael Rooker moment on set, but there was also a sword, and a hatchet, as well as a belt’s worth of tools that Clyde has at the ready. Yet Rooker persevered. Both Rooker and his character were officially ready for anything that this apocalyptic romantic-comedy could throw their way, except for the one thing that ended up tripping the man up unexpectedly: the forces of gravity.
While you won’t exactly get to see the moment where Michael Rooker literally fell down on the job, you can see the adventure and the wisdom that Rooker helps Dylan O’Brien survive through in Love and Monsters. If you’re interested in going back to the movies, the film is currently in limited theatrical release, so check your local listings for showtimes if you’re so inclined. However, if you’re looking to stay home, then you can also check the movie out as it’s currently available on VOD. Either way, the monsterpocalypse awaits for those who seek it, and there’s much more on the way to theaters throughout the rest of the year when you check out the 2020 release schedule.