TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (1)
|Also Known As:||Ronny Walken,Ronnie Walken,Ronald Walken||Died:|
|Born:||March 31, 1943||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Astoria, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor dancer singer model|
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.
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute