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Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken

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Also Known As: Ronny Walken, Ronnie Walken, Ronald Walken Died:
Born: March 31, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Astoria, New York, USA Profession: actor, dancer, singer, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

appeared in director Tony Scott's hyperkinetic pseudo-biopic "Domino" (2005), playing a reality television producer who becomes embroiled in the life of model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley). He then co-starred in the Adam Sandler comedy vehicle "Click" (2006), playing a strange Bed, Bath and Beyond clerk who gives an overworked architect (Sandler) a remote control that can rewind, fast-forward or pause his life. Walken co-starred in "Man of the Year" (2006), playing the ailing talent manager of a popular talk show host (Robin Williams) whose surprise run for the presidency shocks the nation when he actually wins. After "Man of the Year" took a drubbing at the box office, Walken had moved on to his next feature, "Hairspray" (2007), an adaptation of the 2003 musical which was itself adapted from John Waters¿ 1988 film. Walken played Wilbur Turnblad, the easygoing father of an optimistic, but overweight teenager (Nikki Blonsky) who loves to dance despite the disapproval of her large, reclusive and rather androgynous mother, Edna (John Travolta). In the comedy "Balls of Fury" (2007), he was the criminal host of an annual ping-pong tournament where the losers are executed. Showing...

appeared in director Tony Scott's hyperkinetic pseudo-biopic "Domino" (2005), playing a reality television producer who becomes embroiled in the life of model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley). He then co-starred in the Adam Sandler comedy vehicle "Click" (2006), playing a strange Bed, Bath and Beyond clerk who gives an overworked architect (Sandler) a remote control that can rewind, fast-forward or pause his life. Walken co-starred in "Man of the Year" (2006), playing the ailing talent manager of a popular talk show host (Robin Williams) whose surprise run for the presidency shocks the nation when he actually wins. After "Man of the Year" took a drubbing at the box office, Walken had moved on to his next feature, "Hairspray" (2007), an adaptation of the 2003 musical which was itself adapted from John Waters¿ 1988 film. Walken played Wilbur Turnblad, the easygoing father of an optimistic, but overweight teenager (Nikki Blonsky) who loves to dance despite the disapproval of her large, reclusive and rather androgynous mother, Edna (John Travolta). In the comedy "Balls of Fury" (2007), he was the criminal host of an annual ping-pong tournament where the losers are executed. Showing no signs of slowing down, the hard-working actor next filmed "Citizen Brando" (2009), a half documentary, half fictional take on a young man¿s fascination with Marlon Brandon and the American Dream. In "Kill the Irishman" (2011), "Stand Up Guys (2012) and "Seven Psychopaths" (2012), Walken played close to type in a variety of criminal roles. This was followed by the classical music drama "A Late Quartet" (2012) and a cameo in Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys" (2014), an adaptation of the stage hit based on the life and career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In December 2014, Walken appeared on live television, playing Captain Hook in "Peter Pan Live!" (NBC 2014), a live adaptation of the popular children's classic.

996), a Depression-era crime thriller about two mobster brothers (Walken and Chris Penn) who stop at nothing to avenge the murder of their brother (Vincent Gallo). By the mid-1990s, Walken was seemingly in every film that needed a dark, calculating bad guy. After playing an enforce for an Irish mobster (David Patrick Kelly) in "Last Man Standing" (1996), he was the creepy right-hand man of a millionaire (Jack Thompson) who refuses to pay the ransom for his spoiled daughter (Alicia Silverstone) in "Excess Baggage" (1997). Following a wildly over-the-top cameo as a determined exterminator in "Mouse Hunt" (1997), he reprised the vengeful archangel Gabriel for "The Prophecy II" (1998) while essaying an effete early 20th century drama critic in John Turturro's valentine to his wife and the theater, "Illuminata" (1998).

By the end of the 1990s, Walken was well-established as a go-to supporting and leading actor whose off-beat, deadpan delivery was invaluable in both dramatic and comedic roles. Often cited as being one of the most popular actors to play villains, he was also one of the most widely impersonated performers, with many actors ¿ Kevin Spacey, Johnny Depp, Jay Mohr ¿ giving spot-on interpretations of the Walken persona. Meanwhile, he gave voice to the brutal insect Cutter in the CGI-animated "Antz" (1998) and for a third time played the turn-of-the-century widower in "Sarah: Plain and Tall: Winter's End" (CBS, 1999). Taking campy villains to a new level, Walken played the vicious Headless Horseman in Tim Burton's uneven "Sleepy Hollow" (1999), which he followed by playing a retro dad living in a bomb shelter in the Brendan Fraser comedy "Blast From the Past" (1999). After a four-year absence, Walken returned to his stage roots to star opposite Blair Brown in a musical adaptation of James Joyce's short story "The Dead" (1999), before returning to the big screen for "The Opportunists" (2000), in which he was a reformed safecracker who returns to a life of crime in order to support his daughter (Vera Farmiga).

Though known for playing downright evil villains, Walken was also viciously funny, which led to producer Lorne Michaels inviting him to host "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) on numerous occasions. Always a welcomed guest ¿ Michaels gave the actor an open invitation to host whenever the urge surfaced ¿ Walken was the focus of many funny skits, including playing a suave womanizer in the recurrent sketch "The Continental" and spoofing "View to a Kill" villain Max Zorin in a segment called "Lease with an Option to Kill." But none were so revered and remembered than when he played fictional record producer Bruce Dickinson in "More Cowbell." A spoof of VH1¿s "Behind the Music" series, "More Cowbell" focused on a mock recording of the Blue Oyster Cult song "(Don¿t Fear) the Reaper," which featured Will Ferrell playing fictional cowbell player, Gene Frenkle. As the band stops a few times in the middle of the song, Walken emerges from the recording booth to urge Gene to play "a little more cowbell," much to the dismay of the other band members. After a speech from Frenkle lamenting his lack of enthusiasm, Walken declares, "Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription...is more cowbell!" The skit quickly became a phenomenon, with the phrase "More cowbell" becoming a cultural catchphrase.

Continuing an ever-busy schedule ¿ the actor reportedly only turned down roles if he was booked solid ¿ Walken played a cop named McDuff in "Scotland, PA" (2001), an off-kilter retelling of "Macbeth" set in a 1970s fast food joint. Also that year, he was part of David Spade's white trash ensemble in "Joe Dirt" (2001), took a supporting role in the lackluster Julia Roberts comedy "America's Sweethearts" (2001), portrayed mesmerist Count Cagliostro in "The Affair of the Necklace" (2001) and displayed his far-out, but graceful dance moves in the multi-award winning music video for Fatboy Slim¿s "Weapon of Choice" (2001). But just when it seemed that he had given up serious acting to specialize in self-parody, Walken turned in a moving and poignant performance in director Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can" (2002), playing the father of teen con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), the youngest man ever to make the FBI's Most Wanted list. His performance as a once-prosperous businessman whose life was torn asunder by an IRS investigation proved to be a revelation, reminding audiences of his ability to convey the genuine pathos behind emotionally tortured men. Walken subsequently received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the film.

Walken followed his critical triumph with comedic turns as a Mafioso in the less-than-stellar comedy "Kangaroo Jack" (2003) and a kooky, but out-of-place police detective in the dismal flop "Gigli" (2003) opposite Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. The actor did, however, still have his share of scene-stealing roles ahead of him, delivering another offbeat performance as a villain with a penchant for speech-making in "The Rundown" (2003) opposite Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott. Further strategic guest roles followed in films of varying genres and qualities; some successful ¿ like his turn as Denzel Washington's sympathetic friend in the revenge thriller "Man on Fire" (2004) ¿ and others not, like his performance as the bizarre J-Man in the horribly unfunny Ben Stiller-Jack Black comedy "Envy" (2004). Walken next played the formidable Mike Wellington, the mayor of Stepford, whose secret, singular vision surrounding spouse-subservient women of "The Stepford Wives" (2004) proves too seductive for most of the community's men to resist. He was better utilized in the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy "Wedding Crashers" (2005), playing the powerful politico father of leading lady Rachel McAdams. Refreshingly, Walken was allowed to play that role straight, without overdoing the quirks that had previously defined him.

Walken next

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Popcorn Shrimp (2002) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Jungle Book, The (2016)
2.
 Family Fang, The (2016)
3.
 Nine Lives (2016)
4.
 Eddie the Eagle (2016)
5.
7.
 Joe Dirt 2 (2015)
8.
 Jersey Boys (2014)
9.
 Peter Pan Live! (2014)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1954:
Occasionally replaced brother Glenn as Mike Bauer on CBS daytime drama "The Guiding Light"
1959:
Made Broadway debut in "J.B." (billed as Ronnie Walken)
1960:
Worked for the summer as an assistant lion tamer with the Tarryl Jacobs Circus
1965:
Cast in the chorus of "Baker Street"; first role billed as 'Christopher' Walken
1968:
Film debut, a bit part in "Me and My Brother"
1971:
Had first significant feature role in "The Anderson Tapes"
1972:
First film in a lead role, "The Happiness Cage"
1974:
Played "Macbeth" at the NYSF's Public Theatre
1975:
Starred in the stage play "Kid Champion"
1975:
Portrayed Chance Wayne to Irene Worth's Alexandra del Largo in Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth"
1977:
Danced for the first time in a feature in James Ivory's "Roseland"
1978:
Won an Oscar for his memorable turn as a soldier serving in Vietnam in Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter"
1980:
Re-teamed with Cimino for the controversial "Heaven's Gate"
1981:
Displayed his dancing abilities to great effect as the oily villain in "Pennies From Heaven"
1984:
Co-starred in David Rabe's play about Hollywood "Hurlyburly"
1986:
Played Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival
1986:
Cast as the father with a criminal past in the downbeat but well-acted "At Close Range," co-starring Sean Penn and Chris Penn
1988:
Played the nemesis sergeant to a wisecracking new recruit in the film adaptation of Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues"
1988:
Had title role in NYSF's production of "Coriolanus"
1989:
Portrayed real-life author Whitley Streiber, who claimed to have had encounters with aliens in "Communion"
1990:
First of several films with director Abel Ferrara, "The King of New York"
1992:
Appeared as the department store owner Max Schreck in "Batman Returns"
1994:
Co-starred in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction"; delivered a memorable monologue about a gold watch
1995:
Debut as playwright (also starred) with one-man, off-Broadway production "Him"
1996:
Starred as the eldest of three brothers in a crime family in Ferrara's "The Funeral"
1997:
Offered a wildly over-the-top cameo as an exterminator in the comedy "Mouse Hunt"
1997:
Reprised role of Gabriel in the sequel "Prophecy II: Ashtown"
1998:
Voiced the character of Cutter in the animated "Antz"
1998:
Offered an over-the-top comedic performance as an effete turn-of-the-century drama critic in John Turturro's "Illuminata"
1999:
Returned to the NYC stage for the musical "James Joyce's The Dead"; received Tony nomination as Actor in a Musical
1999:
Made third telefilm with Glenn Close, "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End" (CBS)
2000:
Played an ex-con who gets embroiled in a robbery scheme in "The Opportunists"
2001:
Danced in the popular Fatboy Slim music video "Weapon of Choice"
2001:
Returned to the stage in the Mike Nichols-directed "The Seagull"; presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park
2001:
Appeared as a mesmerist in the period drama "Affair of the Necklace"
2002:
Portrayed Marcus Porcius Cato in the TNT miniseries "Julius Caesar"
2004:
Cast in the remake of ''The Stepford Wives,'' Bryan Forbes' 1975 cult classic about upper-crust women being replaced by robots with sunny dispositions
2004:
Starred opposite Jack Black and Ben Stiller in the comedy "Envy"; directed by Barry Levinson
2005:
Cast opposite James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, and Kate Winslet in "Romance & Cigarettes," helmed by John Turturro
2005:
Portrayed a reality TV producer in "Domino" opposite Keira Knightley as Domino Harvey, a model-turned-bounty hunter
2006:
Cast opposite Adam Sandler in the comedy "Click," directed by Frank Coraci
2006:
Cast opposite Robin Williams in Barry Levinson's political comedy "Man of the Year"
2007:
Acted in the remake of John Water's "Hairspray" as Edna Turnblad¿s (John Travolta) husband Wilbur
2010:
Returned to Broadway in the black comedy "A Behanding in Spokane"; earned Tony Award nomination for Leading Actor in a Play
2012:
Cast in ensemble crime comedy "Seven Psychopaths"
2012:
Co-starred with Al Pacino and Alan Arkin as aging con men in crime comedy "Stand Up Guys"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hofstra College: Hempstead , New York -
Actors Studio: New York , New York -
Professional Children's School: New York , New York - 1961

Notes

In 1994 Walken was the recipient of the William Shakespeare Award for Classic Theatre; presented by The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, DC.

Walken wrote an unproduced screenplay based on the life of porn star John Holmes.

"I've been in show business since I was a kid, and I must say that I've always known what I was good for. I never thought of myself like [a romantic lead]. I'm very happy to work (knocks wood), and to do good work sometimes, and to get paid. To me, there are things you're good at and things you're not so good at. For some reason, I'm good at darker characters. It has to do with how you look. I think the fact I was raised in show business, in New York City, in the '50s, that's affected my personality to the point I'm a little different ...

I was in show business since I was a kid. My mind, the way it works, is in show business, always has been. People talk to me about things, income tax, real estate, plumbing, I have no IDEA what they're talking about. ... Acting is all I know."---Christopher Walken quoted in Movieline, December 1993.

"Offscreen, I'm ordinary, predictable and very conservative. I have two houses, a station wagon, cats, the same wife of 28 years, and I like to save money."---Christopher Walken to Wallace Terry in "It's Hard for Me to Play the Guy Next Door", Parade Magazine, September 21, 1997.

"I know I look strange, and strangeness equates into villainy through the camera. It's hard for me to play the guy next door. But it's an advantage too. because other actors don't have it."---Walken quoted in Parade Magazine, September 21, 1997.

"I make a lot of movies. I make four, um, five, six movies a year. I do it because I really like to work. I really don't have anything else to do. Some of them go straight to video. They're so obscure. I make movies nobody will see. I've made a number if movies that I have never seen."---Walken quoted in Empire, December 1997.

"Actors are priests. They are a consuit from something very powerful to the people. That's why when you got to the theater or to the movies you are moved in some way, to laugh, to get a hard-on, to feel compassion. Good acting has a lot to do with the way you were when you were eight years old, you play. It usually has to do with having a good time. Most good actors are very playful."---Christopher Walken quoted in Movieline, November 1998.

"I found [Lee Strasberg] rather severe. He had humor, but you rarely saw it. Elia Kazan was the best acting teacher I ever saw. He says such simple things. At the Actors Studio there were these people who'd [act like] some kind of Delphic mysteries were being imparted. Such seriousness. I said to somebody once, 'Please, I'm getting a headache.' She said to me, 'You just don't understand.' I haven't been there in 10 years for that reason."---Walken quoted in Movieline, November 1998.

Time OUt New York: "You seem to work all the time. Can't you say no to a good role?"

Christopher Walken: "I can say no to hardly any role! I don't have children, and I don't have hobbies. I don't like to travel, really; I like to stay in the house unless I'm working. So it's better for me psychologically."

---From Time Out New York, April 16-23, 1998.

"I've been in show business since I was 3 years old, there're very, very few people around who can say that. [laughs] You can't have been in show business since you were 3 without it having some mark on you. Who I am, the way I think, the way I speak, the way I approach life, has very much to do with that, for better or for worse."---Walken to Interview June 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Georgianne Walken. Casting agent. Met while touring with "West Side Story"; married in 1969; won Emmy for casting HBO's "The Sopranos" in 1999.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Paul Walken. Baker. German immigrant to USA.
mother:
Rosalie Walken. Baker. Scottish immigrant to USA.
brother:
Kenneth Walken. Actor. Older.
brother:
Glenn Walken. Actor. Younger.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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