There is something... strange... about Christopher Walken.

His timing is odd. His intonation and the stresses and pauses in his speech are always somehow... wrong in a way that seems sinister.

I have read that when he receives a script, he reads through it several hundred times until the words lose all meaning and become just sounds to him.

He appeared in a film called "The Comfort of Strangers". It is set in Venice with torturous narrow streets that turn at odd angles between mouldering aristrocratic mansions and shops. The stench of the canals, the dankness of the air, Walken's bizarre character, alert the viewer immediately that something is terribly wrong. But not so the young couple that the Walken character... befriends.

If you have the opportunity to see this film, please take it. This is the role I always associate with Walken.

Christopher Walken (1943 - ?)

"I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own."
- Christopher Walken to director Paul Schrader in 1991

Early Life

The Oscar winning actor, Christopher Walken, was born Ronald Walken to Paul and Rosalie Walken, a pair of New York bakers, on March 31, 1943 in Astoria, Queens, New York. He has two brothers, Kenneth and Glenn.

Acting

Walken first began his career in acting at age 10, when he appeared as an extra on The Colgate Comedy Hour and appeared in a skit with Jerry Lewis. Walken initially intended to study dancing instead of acting, but dropped out of Hofstra University, where he was majoring in English, after one year when he landed a role in the off-Broadway musical Best Foot Forward in 1963. Throughout his teens, he performed on-stage and on live television, and his voluminous body of work on and off Broadway led to his first meaty role in film as an electronics expert in Sidney Lumet's 1972 film, The Anderson Tapes.

Christopher married Georgianne Thon in 1969 while touring with West Side Story. They are still married, and have no children.

While Walken is most widely known for his creepy or evil roles, he has played a number other kinds of characters. To quote the prolific actor, "I've played lots of sane guys, but nobody remembers them." In his defense Walken has also said, "Is typecasting really a problem?" Ironically, Walken's latest role has taken a turn for the different and returned him to his dancing roots. He teamed up with the famous director Spike Jonez to make Fat Boy Slim's 2001 video "Weapon of Choice", which features Walken dancing (and dancing quite well, I might add) all throughout a hotel for the duration of the film.

Awards

Contact Information

Fans should direct mail to:
Christopher Walken
C/O William Morris Agency
151 El Camino Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212 USA

I see this node has almost been beaten into the ground (good work all), but I would like to take the chance to add my two cents. Hopefully I can round up most of what has been said and correct a few mistakes.


Name: Ronald Walken
DoB:: 13/03/1943 - March 31, 1943
Location: Astoria, Queens, New York

Born of a Scottish mother and a German father, both immigrants who met in the New World. Christened Ronald Walken, he was the youngest of three brothers. From a young age him and his brothers were involved in the show business. Their mother had high hopes for the three brothers and would frequently take them to auditions and castings for theatre and television. Such was her enthusiasm that she joined 'The Stage Mothers Society' - a resource group for mothers with children in the dramatic arts - before any of her sons was cast. When the 1950's rolled around you could find the Walken brothers in regular tap dancing classes and appearing on family television shows more often then not.

At the tender age of 10, Ronald was cast in the family show 'The Wonderful John Acton'. The show would recount stories about John Acton as told by his now grown up grandson Kevin, who was only ever shown as child, played by Ronnie.
Actively pursing his career throughout his adolescence he helped in his fathers bakery in his spare time along side his brothers. He enrolled in the 'Professional Children's School and made friends with the likes of Marvin Hamilish and Eric Lee (son of Rose Lee). His enthusiasm and dedication paid off. In 1958 at fifteen he made his off-Broadway debut in the Archibald MacLeish's play J.B. Still eager to expand into other areas he ventured into the circus world and was engaged as a lion tamer for a period. Due to lack of experience the animals he tamed where always old and docile. But his true passion lay in the stage.

After graduation he attended Hofstra University. But in the second term of his stay there his dance teacher and mentor cast him and his brother Glen in his stage production 'Best Foot Forward'. On Ronald recommendation the young Liza Minelli, a fellow student with Ronald, was also auditioned for the play, giving her first part in a stage production. After the relative success of the play, Ronnie began touring with a production of 'West Side Story'. Part of this production was the actress Georgianne Thorn, who would later become his wife. When twenty-two he met the singer Maonique Van Voreen who started to call him Christopher. He so like the name that he kept and insisted on being billed as such for the first time in the musical 'Baker Street' (1965).

n the next year still working prolifically he was cast in 'The Lion and The Winter' as King Phillip. This was to be his first speaking role, all his previous work had been singing. Unfortunately Christopher was overcome with stage fright and found himself unable to perform. Given the ultimatum of either solving the problem or being fired he found a solution. He has never explained how he did it, but it is rumoured that dope was the answer (see the write-up above by mutant). So effective was this solution that he won the 'Clarence Derwnt Award for this performance. He went on from there to appear in many more acclaimed productions including more of Shakespeare's work and Tennessee Williams' 'The Rose Tattoo’ (1966) for which he won the 'Theatre World Award'.

Now at 25 and coming from great acclaim Walken, decided to experiment with the big screen. He was cast in small roles in important films at first. His second big screen outing was alongside Sean Connery in Sidney Lumet's The Anderson Tapes (1971). After this he went through a series of mildly acclaimed films, until 1977 when he was cast in the small but memorable role as Duane, Annie's brother in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. This role led him to be offered a major role in The Deer Hunter (1978). This poignant film earned him both a New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1978 and an Oscar in the 1979 ceremony, both for Best Supporting Actor.

It was returning home to New York in 1980 that his nose was broken in an attack by two young men. He didn't stop working for even a day. After receiving emergency medical treatment and a few stiches he went to work the next day on the project, the musical 'Pennies From Heaven' (1981). This production teamed him up with Steve Martin and with the choreographer, his former dances teacher Danny Daniels (the same man who gave him his role in the Best Foot Forward). This movie was released to great acclaim and Christopher received high praise form both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly amongst others.

In 1981 the charmed actor hit tragedy. Whilst on Thanksgiving break, he went for a cruise around Santa Catalina Island off California. The 29th of November, shortly before returning home, the hostess and good friend to Christopher, Natalie Wood drowned. This distressing affair led to rumours about a romance between the two started to fly, and widows Robert Wagner was accused of killing his wife out of jealousy. These stories eventually subsided and Christopher's life returned to normal.

At this point growing bored with his bland onscreen personas he took a radical turn and appeared in the Roger Moore 007 flick, 'A View To Kill' (1985) as the French crazy nasty badie who wants to take over the microchip industry and also flies around in a zeppelin. Grace Jones also starred in what is to me at least her most memorable acting role. I don't know if this was for him personally defining moment but from then on his evil twin seemed to take over, at least on stage. The Christopher Walken, that you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, came to life. Not to say all his roles are psychopaths but this trend has seemingly dominated for the last 20 years.

For example in the 'King of New York' (1990) he played vicious drug lord come to build hospital in his neighbourhood by any means necessary. Other fine examples are:

With these examples I do not want to say in anyway the Christopher Walken has been typecast in to these roles. On the contrary he has done an astounding range of films and never ceases to amaze. To see the amazing amount of films he has done and their incredible span of genres please refer to the filmography below. I would like to mention that even though is now mainly dedicated to film he occasionally produces minor shows and involves himself in theatre at every chance. As for his amazing dance abilities, after bombarding my incredulous family and friends for months about ‘Ronnie Walker the Dancer’ he can be seen, as mentioned by gitm, in Fatboy Slim's video (USA and now UK version) 'Weapon Of Choice'. It has to be said that he has danced in all of his films, a few steps only in each. Keep an eye out for this. It is truly amazing.


Titbits

He was born on the opening night of Oklahoma!
Early in his marriage and career him and his wife Georgianne decided not have kids. They are both happy with this decision and it allows Christopher to focus on his work. Hence his prolific work.
He lives in New York still (and Connecticut occasionally) with his three cats and his wife.
His brother Glen after playing a small role in Apocalypse Now (1979) opened a restaurant in N.Y. that he runs 'till this day
His brother Ken, is a real estate agent.
Was second choice for the Han Solo character (Nick Nolte was also considered).


Quotes

"I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own."
"Is typecasting really a problem?"
My hair was famous before I was"
"I make movies that nobody will see. I've made movies that even I have never seen."
"I am the malevolent WASP,"


Filmography (as known on July 12, 2001)


Sources: IMDB, my mother, articles I’ve read, interviews and films I’ve seen.
P.S. He wasn’t in The Mummy.

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