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Christopher Walken

From Academic Kids

Ronald Walken (born March 31, 1943), known professionally as Christopher Walken, is an American film, television, and theatre actor best known for playing menacing or psychologically damaged characters. He was born in Queens, New York and has been married to casting director Georgianne Walken since 1969.

Walken initially trained as a dancer in musical theatre before moving on to more serious roles in theatre and then film. A select number of his movies include dance moves that he has worked in, reflecting this early background.

He has been in nearly one hundred movies and television shows since 1953, including The Dead Zone (1983), Brainstorm (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), Batman Returns (1991) True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Catch Me If You Can (2002). He was George Lucas' second choice for Han Solo after Harrison Ford. [1] (http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,4120,1286587,00.html) [2] (http://www.timburtoncollective.com/walken.html) He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Deer Hunter (1978) where he played a disturbed Vietnam vet alongside Robert De Niro. He was nominated again in 2002 for Catch Me if You Can.

He also has a considerable body of work in theatre with over 100 plays to his credit. He won the Clarence Derwent award for his performance in The Lion in Winter in 1966 and an Obie for his 1975 perfomance in Kid Champion. He has perfomed the main role in a number of Shakespeare plays - notably Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Coriolanus.

He tried his hand at writing and directing with the short five minute film Popcorn Shrimp in 2001.

He is also a frequent guest on Saturday Night Live where he has a recurring character and sketch called "The Continental". Another skit for which Walken has become famous was a spoof recording session for Blue yster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Playing Bruce Dickinson, a music producer, he repeatedly stopped the recording to request "more cowbell!" This sketch has become a huge cult hit.

He has also starred in two music videos. His first video role was as Madonna's guardian angel in her 1993 "Bad Girl" video, and the second appearance was in Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice video in 2001.

Notable performances

Listed in chronological order. More general information about each of these films can be found on the individual pages for the films

This Oscar winning film directed by Woody Allen is often cited by Walken and others as the first film that brought the actor and his unusual qualities to the attention of the mainstream viewing public. In a lightning appearance, he plays the strange and suicidally fixated brother of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) providing the opportunity for a couple of fine comic reactions from Woody Allen.

Walken won an Oscar for best supporting actor with his performance in this controversial film. He plays Nick Chevotarevich, a young Pennsylvania steelworker with a poetic bent who is emotionally and spiritually destroyed by the experience of war in Vietnam. Walken's perfomance is notable for his transformation from a sensitive, gentle character to a zoned out automaton, high on heroin and gambling with his life at Russian roulette.

Walken plays schoolteacher Johnny Smith, who after lying in a coma for five years awakes to find he has psychic powers. The role is currently being reprised by Anthony Michael Hall in a TV series of the same name. Walken later spoofed his role in a sketch in Saturday Night Live in a sketch titled "Trivial Psychic". Walken's otherworldly looks and his ability to play vulnerable damaged characters are put to good effect here.

Walken stars as Brad Whitewood, a psychotic rural Pennsylvania family crime boss, who tries to bring his two estranged sons, played by real-life brothers Sean Penn and Chris Penn, into his criminal world. Based on a true story about the Bruce Johnston crime family which operated in eastern Pennsylvania during the late 1970s.

This art house film directed by Paul Schrader, who scripted Taxi Driver, has the notable distinction of providing a role for Walken that disturbed even him. [3] (http://salmonlust.com/cw/cw-lunch92.htm) He plays a decadent Italian aristocrat, Robert, who lives with his wife (Helen Mirren) in Venice. Robert has extreme sexual tastes and murderous tendencies. Walken, sporting Armani suits, provides an understated performance that combines charm, evil and sudden and shocking violence.

This film by noted independent New York film maker Abel Ferrara has attracted both a cult following and the attention of serious film theorists (for example Nicole Brenez [4] (http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/02/21/sd_actor_edit.html)). Walken stars as mysterious but ruthless New York City drug dealer Frank White, recently released from prison and set on reclaiming his criminal territory by any means necessary. White also has moral pretentions acting as a kind of a Robin Hood figure. In this film Walken has the opportunity and screen time to demonstrate his range and his experimental abilities as an actor.

In Walken's first collaboration with Tim Burton (the second was 1999's Sleepy Hollow) he played Max Schreck, an evil millionaire who allies with the Penguin to kill Batman. He also attempts to kill his long-suffering secretary, Selina Kyle, when she discovers his plans. She survives, and becomes Catwoman. For this role, Walken applied his trademark sinister charm and unconventional delivery to the classic comic book villain. </p>

Walken plays a scene opposite Dennis Hopper in this film. This so-called 'Sicilian scene' has become a cult favourite and is frequently hailed by critics - professional and amateur alike - as the best scene in the film. This scene alone is the subject of four commentaries on the DVD attesting to its cult status. After an exchange of dialogue (penned by Quentin Tarantino) Walken's character, Sicilian gangster Vincenzo Coccotti, summarily executes Hopper's character after deliberate provocation by the latter.

This film, which has received many accolades, contains another frequently quoted cult scene with Walken scripted by Tarantino. Here Walken offers a slightly disturbing, but nonethless amusing turn as a Vietnam veteran, Captain Koons, who in a long speech delivers a watch to a small boy from his dead father. Koons explains just how the watch had been hidden during long years in a prisoner of war camp.

  • Weapon of Choice (2001)

Weapon of Choice is a three minute video clip directed by Spike Jonze with music by Fatboy Slim. Spike Jonze has directed numerous other video clips and films such as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. It won six MTV awards in 2001 and also won best video of all time in April 2002, in a list of the top 100 videos of all time, compiled from a survey of musicians, directors and music industry figures conducted by a UK music TV channel VH1. In this video, Walken performs a virtuoso tap dance around the lobby of the Marriott hotel in Los Angeles. Walken also helped choreograph the dance.

External links

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