TALKIN’ WALKEN

Who doesn’t love Christopher freaking Walken?

I’m looking at Fatboy Slim’s Weapons of Choice video and thinking there’s nobody cooler than this Christopher Walken guy.

Because you’re always at your coolest when you’re having fun.

Christopher Walken has acted in about a hundred movies. Some are among the greatest ever filmed (Pulp Fiction, The Deer Hunter,and Annie Hall), some are cult favorites (The Prophecy, Joe Dirt, and True Romance), some are real crap (The Country Bears, Kangaroo Jack, and 2004’s The Stepford Wives,), and a couple rank up there with Hollywood’s biggest outright disasters. (Do the words Gigli or Heaven’s Gate mean anything to you? They probably don’t to Mr. Walken either.)

Born Ronald Christopher Walken in 1943 to immigrant parents, he’s been dancing and acting professionally since he was a child. He was 15 when he made his Broadway dramatic debut. Ten years later he worked in his first movie, and ten years after that he portrayed the Russian-roulette playing soldier, Nick, in The Deer Hunter.

Walken won an Oscar for his intense role in this 1978 film about Viet Nam. He deserved it – if for no other reason than having the balls to spit an improvised lugee in Robert De Niro’s face during the filming of a scene near the movie’s end.

America’s premiere on-screen whack-job doesn’t look down his broken (not by De Niro) nose at TV, either. He started out dancing on old variety shows hosted by the likes of Milton Berle. He was a regular on the soap opera, The Guiding Light, for a couple years in the 1950‘s. In the 70’s, he showed up on Kojak and Hawaii Five-O. He was the widower in Sarah, Plain and Tall. He’s hosted Saturday Night Live seven times.  He dances like a mofo in an MTV video.

And he makes everything he’s in better.

It’s hard to stand out in a Quentin Tarantino ensemble, but Walken does. His Captain Koons segment in Pulp Fiction is a freaky highlight during 152 minutes of supreme freakiness. Seeing Koons from the perspective of little Butch, hearing the story of the ass-watch, there’s no wonder this is such a life defining moment for Bruce Willis’ character. “And now, little man, I give this watch to you.”

And the scene in Tony Scott’s True Romance between our man and Dennis Hopper is unforgettable. Hopper, as seedy but protective father Clifford Worley, would have walked all over almost any other actor the filmmakers might have tied to the chair in that smoky trailer. But neither Walken nor his character, the mobster Vincenzo Coccotti, ever lets anybody forget who’s in control. When he says, “I’m the anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you,” you know he means that shit.

From the bottom of his beady, two-different-colored-eyed soul.

One’s hazel. One’s blue.

Christopher Walken has been superb in movies as diverse as The Dead Zone, At Close Range, Catch Me If You Can, Man on Fire, and Wedding Crashers.

 And he was second choice for Han Solo in the original Star Wars.

That’d been a whole different movie, huh?

I’ve heard Walken recite Poe‘s The Raven. Poe and Walken: two creepy bastards for the price of one.

Okay, so Christopher Walken might not be everybody’s cup of poisoned tea. He’s hammy. The way he delivers lines in that nervous sounding sing-song cadence can be distracting. It’s impossible for him to disappear into a role. He’s never very good in special-effects heavy action flicks. He’s tied for first with Peter Lorre and Willem Dafoe in the Most Naturally Disturbing Screen Presence Ever competition.

But check out those crazy eyes. Or those crazy moves in that video.

And you just know how much fun Christopher Walken has got to be having.

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