Christopher Walken

Biography

Having made the rare successful transition from child player to adult star, Christopher Walken went on to become one of the most respect and sometimes fear performers on screen, if alone because of his upbeat depiction of baleful villains. With a dry, deadpan manner of speaking that was oft-imitated by his contemporaries, Walken himself was a much of a cultural phenomenon as some of his performances. After cutting his tooth on the stage in musicals and later dramatic productions, he made his first impression on film as the brainsick brother of the titular “ Annie Hall ” ( 1977 ) before winning an Academy Award for his hag-ridden Vietnam veteran who becomes obsessed with playing russian roulette in “ The Deer Hunter ” ( 1978 ). With his condition secure, Walken spent the following few decades turning in numerous performance gems in a ceaseless string of projects that ranged from Oscar-winning films to bargain bin rentals, including “ Biloxi Blues ” ( 1988 ), “ true romance ” ( 1993 ) and “ Pulp Fiction ” ( 1994 ). Peppered into his résumé were some of the most bizarre, extraordinary villains ever put on film, like the bleach-blonde industrialist Max Zorin in “ A View to a Kill ” ( 1985 ), the corrupt business man, Max Shreck, who wears human molars as cuff links in “ Batman Returns ” ( 1992 ), and the sadistic Headless Horseman in “ Sleepy Hollow ” ( 1995 ). Though occasionally in danger of self-parody throughout his career, Walken was constantly relevant, as the “ More Cowbell ” skit on “ Saturday Night Live ” ( NBC, 1975 ) indicated. He was besides capable at any time of turning in an Oscar-caliber performance, as he did in “ Catch Me If You Can ” ( 2002 ), proving that the always unpredictable Walken was worthy of his stature as one of the most respect actors working in Hollywood. Born on March 31, 1943 – the like night as the Broadway introduction of “ Oklahoma ! ” – and raised in Astoria, Queens, NY, Walken was raised by his father, Paul, a baker who emigrated from Germany, and his mother, Rosalie, besides a baker who emigrated from Scotland. Since his mother was enamored by appearance occupation, Walken and his two brothers, Glenn and Kenneth, were pushed into dance, modeling and acting at a very young historic period. After beginning his career at the age of three as a catalogue model, he was used as an extra whenever the likes of Jerry Lewis, Steve Allen or Jackie Gleason need children in the background for their drollery skits. by and by, he was enrolled at the Professional Children ‘s School, where he continued training as an actor and dancer while he occasionally replaced brother Glenn as Mike Bauer on the day soap opera, “ The Guiding Light ” ( CBS, 1952-2009 ) between 1954-56. While in his mid-teens, Walken made his Broadway debut in Archibald MacLeish ‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning free rein, “ J.B. ” ( 1959 ), a contemporary learn on the Book of Job set in a modern circus. Walken finished his studies at the Professional Children ‘s School in 1961, during which clock he spent a summer working as a leo tame for the Tarryl Jacobs Circus, where he entered the cage of an old, toothless lion with a flog and demanded “ Up, Sheba, up ! ” By the center of the ten, Walken performed in several musicals, including as a member of the refrain in “ Baker Street ” ( 1965 ). While few chorus players managed to segue into dramatic roles, Walken was an exception when he landed the function of King Philips in the historic drama, “ The Lion in Winter ” ( 1966 ) – a function from which he was about fired for being excessively skittish to perform, but ultimately earned him a Clarence Derwent Award. Later that same class, he tackled his beginning shakespearian function in “ standard for bill ” for the New York Shakespeare Festival. He soon made his feature of speech debut with a act separate in the innovative pseudo-documentary, “ Me and My Brother ” ( 1968 ). After winning a Drama Desk Award for his performance in “ Lemon Sky ” ( 1970 ), Walken had a more significant onscreen depart as a young electronics technical opposite Sean Connery in the Sidney Lumet-helmed crime thriller, “ The Anderson Tapes ” ( 1971 ).

The following year, Walken had his beginning lead role in “ The Happiness Cage ” ( 1972 ), a huffy scientist thriller in which he played an objectionable young man who is used in an experiment that involves removing pain through a brain operation. Returning to the New York Shakespeare Festival, he tackled the lead character in “ Macbeth ” ( 1974 ) while starring the follow class in stagings of “ Kid Champion ” ( 1975 ) and “ Sweet Bird of Youth ” ( 1975 ). Walken made his first base memorable stamp upon the movie-going public with his portrait of Diane Keaton ‘s comically self-destructive buddy in “ Annie Hall ” ( 1977 ). That same year, he danced for the first prison term onscreen in “ Roseland ” ( 1977 ), film director James Ivory ‘s urban play centered around the celebrated New York City ballroom. possibly because of his brainsick depiction in “ Annie Hall, ” Walken was cast as a young man ravaged by his experiences in the Vietnam War in “ The Deer Hunter ” ( 1978 ). co-star Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, and directed by Michael Cimino, “ The Deer Hunter ” featured four friends who go off to war expecting gamble, but alternatively know sin after being captured by the Vietcong and forced to play russian roulette. Walken ‘s bright portrait of a disintegrate man who becomes obsessed with the self-destructive game earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Following his Oscar succeed, he reunited with Cimino to play a gunman in the black “ Heaven ‘s Gate ” ( 1980 ). Though the epic Western was a fiscal wreck and marked the end of the auteur era in Hollywood, Walken himself emerged unharmed. On the minor screen, he offered a memorable turn as a Method actor in “ Who Am I This time ? ” ( PBS, 1981 ), directed by Jonathan Demme, while on the flatware sieve he paid protection to his theatrical background as the buttery villain who performs a sinuate dancing number in the underestimate Steve Martin musical drollery, “ Pennies From Heaven ” ( 1981 ). After a ahead character opposite Tom Berenger in “ The Dogs of War ” ( 1981 ), Walken was perfectly cast as a man cursed with the ability to see the future in “ The Dead Zone ” ( 1983 ), based on the Stephen King novel. besides that year, he co-starred in “ Brainstorm ” ( 1983 ), the last film made by celebrated actress Natalie Wood, who drowned off the coast of Catalina Island while filming the sci-fi thriller in 1981. In fact, Walken was a guest on the yacht of Wood and her husband, Robert Wagner, when the actress fell overboard while allegedly trying to secure a dinghy that was keeping her awake. The film ‘s release was delayed two years while producers figured out a way to film a climatic fit. meanwhile, Walken remained mum for about two decades about the incident until finally giving his accept in a 1997 interview with Playboy. His account matched the official police reputation of the events. rear on the stage, Walken performed in an off-broadway production of David Rabe ‘s “ Hurlyburly ” ( 1984-85 ), directed by Mike Nichols. He left the production to play the camp villain Max Zorin, a chip industrialist looking to destroy Silicon Valley with a man-made earthquake in “ A View to a Kill ” ( 1985 ), wide considered to be the worst James Bond movie of all time. The stick to class, he was Stanley Kowalski in a Williamstown Theatre Festival production of “ A Streetcar Named Desire ” ( 1986 ), playing the role to comic effect to avoid comparisons to Marlon Brando ‘s Oscar-nominated operation in the 1951 film translation. After a chilly turn as an abusive beget in “ At Close Range ” ( 1986 ), Walken was the hard-driving drill sergeant nemesis of a wisecracking newfangled enroll ( Matthew Broderick ) in the movie adaptation of Neil Simon ‘s play, “ Biloxi Blues ” ( 1988 ). Returning to Shakespeare, he essayed the titular Roman general in “ Coriolanus ” ( 1988 ) for the New York Shakespeare Festival. After playing real-life writer Whitley Streiber who claimed visitation by aliens in “ Communion ” ( 1989 ), Walken began a long-running collaboration with director Abel Ferrara, playing the first of respective crime lords in “ The King of New York ” ( 1990 ). Making a rare appearance on television, Walken played a widower and father of two living on a turn-of-the-century Midwestern farm who places an ad for a new wife and mother to his children, which is answered by a single New England schoolteacher ( Glenn Close ), in “ Sarah, Plain and Tall ” ( CBS, 1991 ). In “ Batman Returns ” ( 1992 ), he played knock-down and corrupt businessman Max Shreck, who joins forces with the antic Penguin ( Danny De Vito ) to take on Gotham City ‘s Caped Crusader ( Michael Keaton ). Returning to familiar district, Walken played a organized crime emboss hunting down two improper lovers ( christian Slater and Patricia Arquette ) who have made off with a briefcase full of cocaine. Though his role was small, Walken ‘s operation was memorable, peculiarly in a hanker setting diametric Dennis Hopper, where his character learns the origins of a Sicilian ‘s dark hair and olive skin. The fit between the two heavyweights became an all-time classical. Following a recurrence to television as the once widowed farmer in the irregular installment, “ frolic ” ( CBS, 1993 ), Walken had a little, but pivotal role in Quentin Tarantino ‘s “ Pulp Fiction ” ( 1994 ). He played a Vietnam seasoned who explains the strange journey of a syndicate heirloom to a young male child who late grows up to be a boxer ( Bruce Willis ) who earns the wrath of a local anesthetic gangster ( Ving Rhames ) for botching a cook fight.

Walken returned to the stage as both the dramatist and star of his off-broadway one-man indicate, “ Him ” ( 1995 ), a satirical expression at the afterlife of Elvis Presley. He followed up by portraying the man with the plan in the mediocre Tarantino heist, “ Things to Do in Denver When You ‘re dead ” ( 1995 ) and the garden angelica Gabriel, who leads a rebel united states army against God, in “ The Prophecy ” ( 1995 ). Joining forces once again with director Abel Ferrera again, he starred in “ The Funeral ” ( 1996 ), a Depression-era crime thriller about two gangster brothers ( Walken and Chris Penn ) who stop at nothing to avenge the mangle of their buddy ( Vincent Gallo ). By the mid-1990s, Walken was apparently in every movie that needed a dark, calculating bad ridicule. After playing an enforce for an irish gangster ( 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 spoil daughter ( Alicia Silverstone ) in “ excess baggage ” ( 1997 ). Following a wildly extraordinary cameo as a specify exterminator in “ Mouse Hunt ” ( 1997 ), he reprised the revengeful garden angelica Gabriel for “ The Prophecy II ” ( 1998 ) while essaying an decadent early twentieth century drama critic in John Turturro ‘s valentine to his wife and the dramaturgy, “ Illuminata ” ( 1998 ). By the end of the 1990s, Walken was well-established as a go-to back and leading actor whose off-beat, deadpan manner of speaking was invaluable in both dramatic and comedic roles. much cited as being one of the most democratic actors to play villains, he was besides one of the most widely impersonate performers, with many actors – Kevin Spacey, Johnny Depp, Jay Mohr – giving spot-on interpretations of the Walken character. meanwhile, he gave voice to the barbarous insect Cutter in the CGI-animated “ Antz ” ( 1998 ) and for a third time played the turn-of-the-century widower in “ Sarah : obviously and tall : winter ‘s end ” ( CBS, 1999 ). Taking camp villains to a modern level, Walken played the evil Headless Horseman in Tim Burton ‘s uneven “ Sleepy Hollow ” ( 1999 ), which he followed by playing a retro dad living in a fail shelter in the Brendan Fraser drollery “ Blast From the Past ” ( 1999 ). After a four-year absence, Walken returned to his stage roots to star opposition Blair Brown in a musical adaptation of James Joyce ‘s short fib “ The Dead ” ( 1999 ), before returning to the big filmdom for “ The Opportunists ” ( 2000 ), in which he was a reform safebreaker who returns to a biography of crime in order to support his daughter ( Vera Farmiga ). Though known for playing downright malefic villains, Walken was besides viciously funny story, which led to manufacturer Lorne Michaels inviting him to host “ Saturday Night Live ” ( NBC, 1975- ) on numerous occasions. Always a welcome 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 debonair womanizer in the perennial 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 august and remembered than when he played fabricated record producer Bruce Dickinson in “ More Cowbell. ” A spoof of VH1 ‘s “ Behind the Music ” series, “ More Cowbell ” focused on a mock commemorate of the Blue Oyster Cult song “ ( Do n’t Fear ) the Reaper, ” which featured Will Ferrell playing fabricated 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 depress of the other set members. After a speech from Frenkle lamenting his lack of exuberance, Walken declares, “ Guess what ? I got a fever, and the entirely prescription … is more cowbell ! ” The skit promptly became a phenomenon, with the idiom “ More cowbell ” becoming a cultural catchphrase.

Continuing an ever-busy schedule – the actor reportedly lone turned down roles if he was booked solid – Walken played a collar named McDuff in “ Scotland, PA ” ( 2001 ), an off-kilter fictionalize of “ Macbeth ” jell in a 1970s fast food roast. besides that year, he was part of David Spade ‘s white rubbish ensemble in “ Joe Dirt ” ( 2001 ), took a back function in the lackluster Julia Roberts drollery “ America ‘s Sweethearts ” ( 2001 ), portray hypnotist Count Cagliostro in “ The Affair of the Necklace ” ( 2001 ) and displayed his far-out, but elegant dance moves in the multi-award gain music video recording for Fatboy Slim ‘s “ Weapon of Choice ” ( 2001 ). But equitable when it seemed that he had given up dangerous acting to specialize in self-parody, Walken turned in a move and affecting performance in conductor Steven Spielberg ‘s “ Catch Me If You Can ” ( 2002 ), playing the father of adolescent con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. ( Leonardo DiCaprio ), the youngest serviceman ever to make the FBI ‘s Most cherished tilt. His performance as a once-prosperous businessman whose life sentence was torn asunder by an IRS investigation proved to be a revelation, reminding audiences of his ability to convey the genuine commiseration 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 prevail with comedic turns as a Mafioso in the less-than-stellar comedy “ Kangaroo Jack ” ( 2003 ) and a balmy, but out-of-place police detective in the blue flop “ Gigli ” ( 2003 ) opposite Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. The actor did, however, distillery have his share of scene-stealing roles ahead of him, delivering another upbeat performance as a villain with a preference 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 charitable acquaintance in the retaliation thriller “ Man on Fire ” ( 2004 ) – and others not, like his performance as the bizarre J-Man in the dreadfully unfunny Ben Stiller-Jack Black comedy “ Envy ” ( 2004 ). Walken future played the formidable Mike Wellington, the mayor of Stepford, whose secret, singular vision surrounding spouse-subservient women of “ The Stepford Wives ” ( 2004 ) proves excessively seductive for most of the community ‘s men to resist. He was better utilized in the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn drollery “ wedding Crashers ” ( 2005 ), playing the mighty politician father of leading dame Rachel McAdams. Refreshingly, Walken was allowed to play that function straight, without overdoing the quirks that had previously defined him. Walken future appeared in director Tony Scott ‘s hyperkinetic pseudo-biopic “ Domino ” ( 2005 ), playing a reality television manufacturer 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 salesclerk who gives an overwork architect ( Sandler ) a distant control that can rewind, fast-forward or pause his life. Walken co-star in “ Man of the year ” ( 2006 ), playing the ailing talent director of a democratic talk usher host ( Robin Williams ) whose surprise political campaign for the presidency shocks the nation when he actually wins. After “ Man of the year ” took a cream at the box office, Walken had moved on to his following have, “ 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 corpulence adolescent ( Nikki Blonsky ) who loves to dance despite the disapproval of her large, cloistered and quite androgynous mother, Edna ( John Travolta ). In the drollery “ Balls of Fury ” ( 2007 ), he was the condemnable host of an annual table tennis 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 learn on a young man ‘s fascination with Marlon Brandon and the american english Dream. In “ Kill the Irishman ” ( 2011 ), “ Stand Up Guys ( 2012 ) and “ Seven Psychopaths ” ( 2012 ), Walken played close to type in a variety show of criminal roles. This was followed by the classical music drama “ A deep 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 hot adaptation of the popular children ‘s classic .

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