Walken, Christopher 1943–

views updated May 21 2018

Walken, Christopher 1943–

(Chris Walken, Ronnie Walken, Christopher Wlaken)


Original name, Ronald Walken; born March 31, 1943, in Astoria, Queens, New York, NY; son of Paul (a baker) and Rosalie (a baker) Walken; brother of Glenn Walken (an actor); married Georgianne Thon (a casting director, dancer, and production assistant), 1969. Education: Attended Hofstra University; trained at American National Theatre and Academy, at Actors Studio, New York City, and with Wynn Handman, New York City; studied dance. Avocational Interests: Cooking, painting, cats.

Addresses: Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Publicist—I/D Public Relations, 8409 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069.

Career: Actor and dancer. Worked as a child actor and catalogue model; as a teenager, worked as an assistant to a circus lion tamer. Held various jobs.

Member: Screen Actors Guild, Actors' Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Awards, Honors: Clarence Derwent Award, American Theatre Wing, 1966, for The Lion in Winter; Theatre World Award, most promising personality, 1967, for The Rose Tattoo; Drama Desk Award, outstanding performance, 1970, for Lemon Sky; Jeff Award, Joseph Jefferson awards, 1971, for The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail; Obie Award, best actor, Village Voice, 1975, for Kid Champion; New York Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, 1978, Academy Award, best actor in a supporting role, 1979, Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actor in a supporting role, 1979, and Film Award nomination, best supporting actor, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1980, all for The Deer Hunter; Obie Award, best actor, 1981, for The Seagull; Saturn Award nomination, best actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Films, 1984, for The Dead Zone; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or special, 1991, for "Sarah, Plain and Tall," Hallmark Hall of Fame; William Shakespeare Award for Classic Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, DC, 1994; Actor Award, Gotham awards, Independent Features Project, 1995; Saturn Award nomination, best supporting actor, 1996, for The Prophecy; special mention, Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema, 1997, for The Addiction; Susan Stein Shiva Award, Public Theatre, New York City, 1997; Master Screen Artist Tribute, USA Film Festival, 1998; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actor in a musical, 2000, for James Joyce's "The Dead"; Saturn Award nomination, best supporting actor, and MTV Movie Award nomination, best villain, both 2000, for Sleepy Hollow; American Comedy Award, funniest male guest appearance in a television series, 2001, for Saturday Night Live; MTV Video Music Award (with Michael Rooney and Spike Jonze), outstanding choreography, 2001, for "Weapon of Choice"; Screen Actors Guild Award, outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role, National Society of Film Critics Award, best supporting actor, Film Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, best performance by an actor in a supporting role, and Academy Award nomination, best actor in a supporting role, all 2003, for Catch Me If You Can; ShoWest Award, supporting actor of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 2003; named one of the 100 greatest movie stars, Channel 4 (England), 2003; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2004; Best Actor Award, Montreal World Film Festival, 2004, and Golden Satellite Award, best actor in a supporting role, drama, International Press Academy, 2005, both for Around the Bend; Marquee Award, CineVegas International Film Festival, 2005; named one of the twenty-five most intriguing people, Tropopkin magazine.


Film Appearances:

Me and My Brother, New Yorker, 1968.

The kid, The Anderson Tapes, Columbia, 1971.

Private James H. Reese, The Happiness Cage (also known as The Demon within and The Mind Snatchers), Cinerama, 1972.

(As Chris Walken) Robert, Next Stop, Greenwich Village, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976.

Detective Rizzo, The Sentinel, Universal, 1977.

(As Christopher Wlaken) Duane Hall, Annie Hall, United Artists, 1977.

Russel (the Hustle), Roseland, Cinema Shares, 1977.

Nikanor "Nick" Chevotarevich, The Deer Hunter, Universal, 1978.

Eckart, Last Embrace, United Artists, 1979.

Nathan D. Champion, Heaven's Gate (also known as Johnson County Wars), United Artists, 1980.

Jamie Shannon, The Dogs of War, United Artists, 1981.

Mr. Rainbow, Shoot the Sun Down, 1981.

Tom, Pennies from Heaven (musical), United Artists, 1981.

Dr. Michael Anthony Brace, Brainstorm, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1983.

Johnny Smith, The Dead Zone, Paramount, 1983.

(In archive footage) Terror in the Aisles, 1984.

Max Zorin, A View to a Kill (also known as Ian Fleming's "A View to a Kill"), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1985.

Brad Whitewood, Sr., At Close Range, Orion, 1986.

Don Stevens, Deadline (also known as Witness in the War Zone and War Zone—Todeszone), Skouras Pictures, 1987.

Kyril Montana, The Milagro Beanfield War, Universal, 1988.

Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey, Biloxi Blues (also known as Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues"), Universal, 1988.

Wesley Pendergrass, Homeboy, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1989.

Whitley Strieber, Communion, New Line Cinema, 1989.

Frank White, King of New York, New Line Cinema, 1990.

Title role, McBain, Glickenhaus Entertainment, 1991.

Robert, The Comfort of Strangers (also known as Cortesie per gli ospiti), Skouras Pictures, 1991.

Max Schreck, Batman Returns, Warner Bros., 1992.

Pasco Meisner, Le grand pardon II (also known as Day of Atonement), Vidmark Entertainment, 1992.

P. J. Decker, All-American Murder, Prism Entertainment, 1992.

Warren Zell, Mistress (also known as Hollywood Mistress), Tribeca Productions, 1992.

Bobby Cahn, Wayne's World 2, Paramount, 1993.

Don Vincenzo Coccotti, True Romance (also known as Breakaway), Warner Bros., 1993.

Captain Koons, Pulp Fiction, Miramax, 1994, alternate versions also released.

Vanni Corso, A Business Affair (also known as Astucias de mujer, D'une femme a l'autre, and Liebe und Andere Geschaefte), Castle Hill Productions, 1994.

Angel Gabriel, The Prophecy (also known as God's Army and God's Secret Army), Dimension Films, 1995.

Kim Ulander, Search and Destroy (also known as The Four Rules), October Films, 1995.

The man with the plan, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, Miramax, 1995.

Mr. Smith, Nick of Time (also known as Counted Moments), Paramount, 1995.

Peina, The Addiction, October Films, 1995.

Hickey, Last Man Standing, New Line Cinema, 1996.

The interviewer, Basquiat (also known as Build a Fort, Set It on Fire), Miramax, 1996.

Ray Tiempo, The Funeral, October Films, 1996.

United States officer, Celluloide, Civite, 1996.

Bill Hill, Touch, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1997.

Caesar, Mouse Hunt (also known as Mousechase), DreamWorks, 1997.

Charles Barrett/Carlo Bartolucci, Suicide Kings (also known as Boys Night Out and Bred and Bored), New Films International, 1997.

Raymond "Ray" Perkins, Excess Baggage, Columbia, 1997.

Fox, New Rose Hotel, Avalanche Releasing, 1998.

Gabriel, The Prophecy II (also known as God's Army II and Prophecy II: Ashtown), Dimension Films, 1998.

Umberto Bevalaqua, Illuminata, Artisan Entertainment, 1998.

Uncle Bill Ferriter, Trance (also known as The Eternal and The Eternal: Kiss of the Mummy), Trimark Pictures, 1998.

Voice of Colonel Cutter, Antz (animated; also known as Ants), DreamWorks, 1998.

Calvin Webber, Blast from the Past, New Line Cinema, 1999.

Himself, Cast and Crew (short film), TVI's Productions, 1999.

Hessian horseman, Sleepy Hollow, Paramount, 1999.

Gabriel, The Prophecy III: The Ascent (also known as God's Army III), Dimension Films, 2000.

Victor "Vic" Kelly, The Opportunists, Fist Look Pictures Releasing, 2000.

Clem, Joe Dirt (also known as The Adventures of Joe Dirt), Columbia, 2001.

Count Cagliostro, The Affair of the Necklace, Warner Bros., 2001.

Hal Weidmann, America's Sweethearts, Columbia, 2001.

Lieutenant Ernie McDuff, Scotland, Pa., Lot 47 Films, 2001.

Roy, Jungle Juice, Miracle Entertainment, 2001.

Frank Featherbed, Plots with a View (also known as Plotz with a View, Undertaking Betty, Grabgefluester, Grabgefluester—Liebe kann Saerge, and Grabgefluester—Liebe versetzt Saerge), Miramax, 2002.

Frank W. Abagnale, Sr., Catch Me If You Can, Dream-Works, 2002.

Reed Thimple, The Country Bears, Buena Vista, 2002.

Detective Stanley Jacobellis, Gigli (also known as Tough Love), Columbia/TriStar, 2003.

Hatcher, The Rundown (also known as Welcome to the Jungle), Universal, 2003.

Mike, Poolhall Junkies, Samuel Goldwyn, 2003.

Salvatore "Sal" Maggio, Kangaroo Jack, Warner Bros., 2003.

J-Man, Envy, DreamWorks, 2004.

Mike Wellington, The Stepford Wives, Paramount, 2004.

Rayburn, Man on Fire, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2004.

Secretary Cleary, Wedding Crashers, New Line Cinema, 2004.

Turner Lair, Around the Bend, Warner Bros., 2004.

Cousin Bo, Romance and Cigarettes, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2005.

Mark Heiss, Domino, New Line Cinema, 2005.

CIA agent, Fade to Black, Miramax, 2006.

Morty, Click, Sony Pictures Releasing, 2006.

Man of the Year, Universal, 2006.

Fang, Balls of Fury, c. 2007.

Film Work:

Coproducer, New Rose Hotel, Avalanche Releasing, 1998.

Stage Appearances:

(As Ronnie Walken) David, J. B., American National Theatre and Academy Theatre, New York City, 1959.

(As Ronnie Walken) Clayton "Dutch" Miller, Best Foot Forward (musical), Stage 73, New York City, 1963.

(As Ronnie Walken) Chorus member, High Spirits (musical), Alvin Theatre, New York City, 1964–65.

Killer, Baker Street (musical), Broadway Theatre and Martin Beck Theatre, both New York City, 1965.

Claudio, Measure for Measure, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, New York City, 1966.

Jack Hunter, The Rose Tattoo, New York City Center Drama Company, City Center Theatre, then Billy Rose Theatre, both New York City, 1966.

Philip (king of France), The Lion in Winter, Ambassador Theatre, New York City, 1966.

Unknown soldier, The Unknown Soldier and His Wife, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theater, then George Abbott Theatre, both New York City, 1967.

Achilles, Iphigenia in Aulis, Circle in the Square Downtown, New York City, 1967–68.

Felton, The Three Musketeers, Stratford Festival of Canada, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, 1968.

Lysander, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Stratford Festival of Canada, 1968.

Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, Stratford Festival of Canada, 1968.

Priest, The Chronicles of Hell, APA Repertory Company, Ann Arbor, MI, 1969.

Rosencrantz, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Parker Playhouse, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1969.

The Comedy of Errors, San Diego Shakespeare Festival, San Diego, CA, 1969.

Julius Caesar, San Diego Shakespeare Festival, 1969.

Alan, Lemon Sky, Playhouse Theatre, New York City, 1970.

Posthumus Leonatus, Cymbeline (also known as The Tale of Cymbeline), New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, 1971.

Thoreau, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL, 1971.

Scenes from American Life, Forum Theatre, New York City, 1971.

Title role, Caligula, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1971–72.

George, The Judgment, American Place Theatre, New York City, 1972.

Oedipus, The Palace at 4 a.m., John Drew Theatre, East Hampton, NY, 1972.

Sinstov, Enemies, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theater, 1972.

Achilles, Troilus and Cressida, New York Shakespeare Festival, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, New York City, 1973.

Bassanio, The Merchant of Venice, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theater, 1973.

Title role, Houdini, Lenox Art Center, Lenox, MA, 1973.

Jack Clitheroe, The Plough and the Stars, Lincoln Center, Vivian Beaumont Theater, 1973.

Dance of Death, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1973.

Miss Julie, Long Wharf Theatre, 1973.

Antonio, The Tempest, New York Shakespeare Festival, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, 1974.

Title role, Hamlet, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Center Playhouse, Seattle, WA, 1974.

Title role, Macbeth, New York Shakespeare Festival, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, 1974.

Title role, Kid Champion, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Anspacher Theatre, New York City, 1975.

Chance Wayne, Sweet Bird of Youth, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York City, then Rebehak Harkness Theatre, New York City, 1975, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, c. 1975, Academy Festival Theatre, Chicago, IL, 1976.

Gregers Werle, The Wild Duck, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1978.

Measure for Measure, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1979.

Trigorin, The Seagull, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Estelle R. Newman Theatre, New York City, 1980.

Title role, Hamlet, American Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, CT, 1982.

Henry Percy (Hotspur), Henry IV, Part I, American Shakespeare Theatre, 1982.

Leonard Charteris, The Philanderer, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1982.

Title role, Ivanov, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, 1983.

The director, Cinders, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, LuEsther Hall, New York City, 1984.

Mickey, Hurlyburly, Promenade Theatre, then Ethel Barrymore Theatre, both New York City, between 1984 and 1985.

A Bill of Divorcement, Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, CT, 1985.

Billy Einhorn, The House of Blue Leaves, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, 1986.

Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire, Williamstown Theatre Festival, 1986.

Uncle Vanya, American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 1988.

Caius Marcius Coriolanus (title role), Coriolanus, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Anspacher Theatre, New York City, 1988–89.

William Makepeace Ladd III, Love Letters, Promenade Theatre, 1989.

Night of 100 Stars III (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1990.

Iago, Othello, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, 1992.

Title role, Him (solo show), New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, LuEsther Hall, 1995.

Gabriel Conroy, James Joyce's "The Dead" (musical), Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1999–2000.

Piotr Nikolayevich Sorin, The Seagull, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, Delacorte Theatre, 2001.

Major Tours:

Riff, West Side Story (musical), c. 1960.

Television Appearances; Series:

(As Ronnie Walken) Kevin Acton, The Wonderful John Acton, NBC, 1953.

(As Ronnie Walken) Michael "Mike" Bauer (shared role with brother Glenn Walken), The Guiding Light (also known as Guiding Light), CBS, 1954–56.

Voice of Dr. Mayhem, Defenders of Dynatron City (animated), Fox, beginning c. 1992.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Max Zorin, "I Love 1985," I Love 1980s, BBC-2, 2001.

Marcus Porcius Cato, Julius Caesar (also known as Caesar and Guilio Cesare), TNT, 2002.

Himself, The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, Channel 4 (England), 2003.

Himself, The 100 Greatest War Films, Channel 4, 2005.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Puss, Cannon Movie Tales: Puss in Boots (musical; also known as Puss in Boots), 1988.

Jack Shanks, Scam, Showtime, 1993.

Bruno Buckingham, Wild Side, HBO, 1996.

James Houston, Vendetta, HBO, 1999.

Max, Kiss Toledo Goodbye, Starz!, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Lamprocles, "Barefoot in Athens," Hallmark Hall of Fame (also known as George Schaefer's "Showcase Theatre: Barefoot in Athens"), NBC, 1966.

Felton, The Three Musketeers, [Canada], 1969.

The Hessian, "Valley Forge," Hallmark Hall of Fame, NBC, 1975.

Harry Nash, "Sense of Humor: Who Am I This Time?," American Playhouse, PBS, 1982.

"Celebrating Gershwin" (also known as "The Jazz Age" and "'S Wonderful"), Great Performances, PBS, 1987.

(In archive footage) Happy Anniversary 007: 25 Years of James Bond, ABC, 1987.

Night of 100 Stars III (also known as Night of One Hundred Stars), NBC, 1990.

Jacob Witting, "Sarah, Plain and Tall," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1991.

Jacob Witting, "Skylark" (also known as "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Skylark"), Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1993.

The Second Annual Saturday Night Live Mother's Day Special, NBC, 1993.

Himself, Anatomy of Horror, UPN, 1995.

The Secret World of Antz, NBC, 1998.

Jacob Witting, "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End," Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 1999.

Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary (also known as Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Primetime Special), NBC, 1999.

Narrator, David Blaine: Frozen in Time, ABC, 2000.

Himself, "The Papp Project," American Masters, PBS, 2001.

Rusty, "Engine Trouble," Reflections from Ground Zero, Showtime, 2002.

(Uncredited; In archive footage) Best Ever Bond, Independent Television (England), 2002.

(In archive footage) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Will Ferrell, NBC, 2002.

Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary, Comedy Central, 2003.

The Making of "Man on Fire," 2004.

(In archive footage) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Cheri Oteri, NBC, 2004.

(In archive footage) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Christopher Walken, NBC, 2004.

(In archive footage) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tom Hanks, NBC, 2004.

Himself, Reel Comedy: Wedding Crashers, Comedy Central, 2005.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 51st Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1979.

Presenter, The 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Fox, 1991.

Presenter, 50th Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1993.

Presenter, The 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 1997.

The 54th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 2000.

Presenter, MTV Video Music Awards 2001, MTV, 2001.

The 15th Annual American Comedy Awards, Comedy Central, 2001.

The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.

Presenter, On Stage at the Kennedy Center: The Mark Twain Prize Celebrating Lorne Michaels, PBS, 2005.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

(As Ronnie Walken) "The Muldoon Matter," The Motorola Television Hour (also known as The Motorola TV Hour and Motorola TV Theatre), ABC, 1954.

(As Ronnie Walken) Chris, "Robin Hood and Clarence Darrow, They Went out with Bow and Arrow," Naked City, ABC, 1963.

Walt Kramer, "Run, Johnny, Run," Hawaii Five-0 (also known as McGarrett), CBS, 1970.

Ben Wiley, "Kiss It All Goodbye," Kojak, CBS, 1977.

Himself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1995.

Rotten TV, VH1, 2000.

"Man on Fire," HBO First Look, HBO, 2004.

(In archive footage) 101 Most Unforgettable SNL Moments (also known as E's "101"), E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Appeared in other programs, including episodes of The Colgate Comedy Hour, NBC; Ernie Kovacs, NBC and CBS; Mama, CBS; Omnibus, CBS, ABC, and NBC; and Philco Television Playhouse, NBC.

Television Guest Appearances; Episodic:

Guest host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's Saturday Night, "Saturday Night," Saturday Night Live '80, SNL, and SNL 25), NBC, multiple appearances between 1990 and 2003.

Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, 1992.

The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1997.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2000, 2003, 2004.

The Movie Chart Show, 2001.

Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2004.

The Late Show with David Letterman (also known as The Late Show and Late Show Backstage), CBS, 2005.

Today (also known as NBC News Today and The Today Show), NBC, 2005.

Television Director; Specials:

Popcorn Shrimp, Showtime, 2001.



Guardian angel in "Bad Girl" music video, Madonna: The Video Collection 93:99, 1999.

Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend, Mandalay/Paramount, 2000.

Breaking the Silence: The Making of "Hannibal," Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment, 2001.

Performer in "Weapon of Choice" music video, The Work of Director Spike Jonze, Palm Pictures, 2003.

A Perfect World: The Making of "The Stepford Wives," Paramount Home Video, 2004.

The Rundown: Rumble in the Jungle (short), Universal, 2004.

The Rundown: Running down the Town (short), Universal, 2004.

The Rundown: Walken's World (short), Universal, 2004.

Stepford: A Definition, Paramount Home Video, 2004.

The Stepford Husbands, Paramount Home Video, 2004.

It's a Good Day: The Making of "Around the Bend," Warner Home Video, 2005.

Vengeance Is Mine: Reinventing "Man on Fire," Twentieth Century-Fox Home Entertainment, 2005.

Music Videos:

Madonna, "Bad Girl," 1993.

Fatboy Slim, "Weapon of Choice," 2001.

Video Games:

Voice of David Hassan, Privateer 2: The Darkening, Electronic Arts, 1996.

Voice of Detective Vince Magnotta, Ripper, Take 2 Interactive, 1996.

Voice of George, True Crime: Streets of LA, Activision, 2003.

Voice of Gabriel Whitting, True Crime: New York City, Activision, 2005.


"The Raven," Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Mercury/Universal, 1997.



The Prophecy (also known as God's Army and God's Secret Army), Dimension Films, 1995.

Author of other screenplays.

Writings for the Stage:

Him (solo show), New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, LuEsther Hall, New York City, 1995.

Teleplays; Specials:

Popcorn Shrimp, Showtime, 2001.



International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, fourth edition, St. James Press, 2000.


Details, December, 1993, pp. 145-47, 198-200.

Empire, issue 60, 1994, pp. 46-47; December, 1997, pp. 62-63.

Entertainment Weekly, March 17, 2000, pp. 30-35; October 22, 2004, p. 14.

Esquire, January, 1981.

Feature, April, 1979.

Film Comment, July/August, 1992.

Films Illustrated, March, 1979.

Interview, August, 1977; February, 1979; March, 1988, p. 76; July, 1993; June, 2004, pp. 68-73.

Mademoiselle, December, 1980.

Movieline, December, 1993; November, 1998, pp. 56-59, 82-83, 91.

Movieline's Hollywood Life, May, 2004, pp. 80-83.

New York, June 15, 1981.

New York Daily News, March 24, 1988, pp. 1, 62.

New Yorker, January 9, 1995.

New York Times, December 26, 1978; June 24, 1992.

People Weekly, May 26, 1986, pp. 59-62.

Photoplay, July, 1985.

Playboy, September, 1997, pp. 51-59.

Premiere, issue 237, 1996, p. 82; July, 2004, pp. 104-108, 128.

Rolling Stone, March 8, 1979.

Sight & Sound, January, 1997.

Starlog, October, 1992.

Tropopkin, October, 1995.

Village Voice, January 15, 1979.

Washington Post, July 24, 2005, pp. N1, N5.

Walken, Christopher

views updated Jun 11 2018

WALKEN, Christopher

Nationality: American. Born: Ronald Walken, Queens, New York, 31 March 1943. Education: Attended Professional Children's School, Manhattan; Hofstra University, New York. Family: Married the actress Georgianne Thon, 1969. Career: Worked as a model starting at age three; early 1950s—appeared in countless live television productions mostly in walk-ons; 1960—Broadway debut in J. B. (billed as Ronny Walken); early to mid-1960s—stage performances, mostly in the chorus, include Best Foot Forward, High Spirits, Baker Street, and West Side Story; first dramatic stage role in 1966, in The Lion in Winter; 1969—film debut in Me and My Brother. Awards: Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, and Best Supporting Actor, New York Film Critics, for The Deer Hunter, 1978. Address: 142 Cedar Road, Wilton, CT 06897, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Me and My Brother (Robert Frank) (bit role)


The Mind Snatchers (The Happiness Cage) (Girard) (as Pvt. James Reese)


Valley Forge (Cook—for TV) (as the Hessian)


Next Stop, Greenwich Village (Mazursky) (as Robert)


The Sentinel (Winner) (as Rizzo); Annie Hall (Woody Allen) (as Duane Hall); Roseland (Ivory) (as Russel)


The Deer Hunter (Cimino) (as Nick)


Last Embrace (Jonathan Demme) (as Eckart)


Heaven's Gate (Cimino) (as Nathan D. Champion); The Dogs of War (Irvin) (as Jamie Shelton)


Shoot the Sun Down (Leeds); Pennies from Heaven (Ross) (as Tom)


Who Am I This Time? (Jonathan Demme—for TV) (as Harry Nash)


Brainstorm (Trumbull) (as Michael Anthony Brace); The Dead Zone (Cronenberg) (as Johnny Smith); Barefoot in Athens (Schaefer) (as Lamprocles)


A View to a Kill (Glen) (as Max Zorin)


At Close Range (Foley) (as Brad Whitewood, Sr.)


Deadline (Gutman) (as Don Stevens)


Biloxi Blues (Mike Nichols) (as Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey); The Milagro Beanfield War (Redford) (as Kyril Montana); Puss in Boots (Marner)


Homeboy (Seresin) (as Wesley Pendergrass); Communion (Mora) (as Whitley Strieber)


King of New York (Ferrara) (as Frank White); Sarah, Plain and Tall (Glenn Jordan—for TV) (as Jacob Wittig)


The Comfort of Strangers (Schrader) (as Robert); McBain (Glickenhaus) (title role)


All-American Murder (Anson Williams) (as P. J. Decker); Batman Returns (Burton) (as Max Shreck); Mistress (Primus) (as Warren Zell)


True Romance (Tony Scott) (as Vincenzo Coccotti); Wayne's World 2 (Surjik) (as Bobby Cahn); Skylark (Sargent—for TV) (as Jacob Wittig); Scam (Flynn—for TV); Le Grand Pardon II (Day of Atonement) (Arcady) (as Pasco Meisner)


Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) (as Capt. Koons); The Addiction (Ferrara) (as Peina); A Business Affair (Brandstrom) (as Vanni Corso); Nick of Time (Badham) (as Mr. Smith); Search and Destroy (Salle) (as Kim Ulander); Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (Fleder) (as the Man with the Plan); The Wild Side (Cammell) (as Bruno)


The Prophecy (God's Army) (Widen) (as Angel Gabriel); Last Man Standing (Walter Hill); The Funeral (Ferrara); Excess Baggage (Brambilla); Basquiat (Build a Fort, Set It on Fire) (Schnabel)


Touch (Schrader) (as Bill Hill); Excess Baggage (Brambilla) (as Raymond Perkins); Suicide Kings (O'Fallon) (as Carlo Bartolucci/Charlie Barret); Mouse Hunt (Verbinski) (as Caesar)


The Prophecy II (Spence) (as Gabriel); Illuminata (Turturro) (as Bevalaqua); Trance (Almereyda) (as Uncle Bill Ferriter); Antz (Darnell and Guterman) (as voice of Colonel Cutter); New Rose Hotel (Farrara) (as Fox)


The Prophecy III: The Ascent (Lussier) (as Gabriel); The Opportunists (Connell) (as Vic Kelly); Blast from the Past (Hugh Wilson) (as Calvin Webber); Vendetta (Meyer) (as James Houston); Sleepy Hollow (Burton) (as Hessian Horseman); Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End (Glenn Jordan—for TV) (as Jacob Witting); Kiss Toledo Goodbye (Chubbuck) (as Max)


By WALKEN: articles—

"Off the Wall with Walken," interview with Tinkerbelle, in Interview (New York), August 1977.

"Talkin' with Walken," interview with V. Visser, in Interview (New York), February 1979.

"Introducing Christopher Walken," interview with M. Whitman, in Films Illustrated (London), March 1979.

"Out There on a Visit," interview with Gavin Smith, in Film Comment (New York), July/August 1992.

Interview with Kurt Markus, in Interview (New York), July 1993.

"Interview with the Antichrist," interview with M. Frankel, in Movieline (Escondido, California), December 1993.

On WALKEN: articles—

Maslin, Janet, "Movies 'Discover' Christopher Walken," in New York Times, 26 December 1978.

Fox, T. C., "Christopher Walken: The Shy and Evil WASP," in Village Voice (New York), 15 January 1979.

Hodenfield, C., "Point-Blank: The Deer Hunter's Christopher Walken," in Rolling Stone (New York), 8 March 1979.

Chase, D., and J. Coencas, "Deer Hunter Vets Step Out: Walken Embraces Acclaim," in Feature, April 1979.

Kornbluth, J., "Christopher Walken: The Oscar Winner Nobody Knows," in Mademoiselle (New York), December 1980.

Haller, Scot, "I Am the Malevolent WASP," in Esquire (New York), January 1981.

Wolf, W., "The Walken Enigma," in New York, 15 June 1981.

Norman, N., "Walken Tall," in Photoplay (London), July 1985.

Gaillac-Morgue, "Christopher Walken," in Cinéma (Paris), 18–24 September 1985.

Guerif, F., "Christopher Walken," in Revue Belge du Cinema (Brussels), May 1989.

Katsahnias, I., "Christopher Walken," Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1990.

Weinraub, Bernard, "A New York Actor Takes Stardom with a Grain of Salt," in New York Times, 24 June 1992.

"Walken on the Wild Side," in New Yorker, 9 January 1995.

Penman, I., "The Dead," in Sight & Sound (London), January 1997.

* * *

Christopher Walken started acting as a child when he appeared in countless television and stage productions. Then, as an adult he enjoyed several years of popularity and critical acclaim on the Broadway stage. In the 1970s, he started working in film, and during the early years of his screen career Walken distinguished himself in several compelling supporting roles, including his amusing performance as Diane Keaton's strangely neurotic younger brother in Annie Hall, and as a cunning and comfortably kept gigolo in Roseland. Most notably, he appeared as The Deer Hunter's Nick, a naive young man with romantic ideas about the adventures and heroism of war, who becomes emotionally broken, then embittered and suicidally detached as a result of his experience in Vietnam. After this still-memorable award-winning performance secured his formidable film reputation, his first leading screen role (and the first time he received top billing) was in The Dogs of War in 1980, the same year he appeared in the epic but commercially disastrous Western Heaven's Gate.

One of America's most skillful and unique actors, Walken has amassed a huge list of screen credits and has carved a compelling and singular niche for himself in cinematic history. He has worked with both mainstream directors, such as Tim Burton, Mike Nichols, and Robert Redford, and with more unconventional directors, such as Abel Ferrara, Paul Schrader, and Quentin Tarantino. As deft at comedic as at dramatic performance, Walken is a strikingly complex film presence: supremely confident yet accessible, menacing yet vulnerable, and eccentric yet serious. His characters convey unmistakably askew, and occasionally deeply disturbed, psyches. Tall, thin, and almost-handsome, Walken has one of the most singular visages in contemporary American cinema. Moreover, his talent is multifaceted: along with his nimble physical style (the result of his many years as a stage dancer) which enables him to convey a delicacy and subtlety of bodily expression, Walken has an extraordinary command of his voice—including an unexpected emphasis on certain words and a rich repertoire of rhythms.

His wide-ranging talents have been revealed in several remarkable roles, including At Close Range in which he offers a chilling performance as a sociopathic Midwestern hood who commands a gang of thieves and recruits his adrift teenaged sons—among his countless other criminal and moral offenses. In the thriller The Comfort of Strangers, he conveys a deep understanding of the powerful combination of scary and funny; his performance as a monstrous and crazed European stranger in murderous pursuit of a vacationing British couple is disturbing and intense, yet also immensely funny.

As his film career has evolved over the years, Walken has altered his acting style, especially in terms of his emotional expressivity, in noteworthy ways. In his early film appearances, including The Deer Hunter and The Dead Zone, his performances were more overtly emotional. In his more recent roles, Walken's performances have tended to be less revealing and more stoic, thus lending an additional layer of complexity to his characterizations. In The Milagro Beanfield War, for example, he appears in only a few scenes as a taciturn troubleshooter working for a group of unethical businessmen and government officials. In a particularly compelling scene, Walken visits the office of a small-town lawyer and community activist where he calmly listens to the man's emotional tirade which is meant to be intimidating. Remaining calm, Walken responds by raising his eyebrow, muttering "mmmmm," and leaving—otherwise keeping his specific thoughts to himself, and thereby withholding the means by which to clearly interpret his interior state.

Recently, Walken redeemed the otherwise weak film The Prophecy, in which he appears as the evil, manipulative, yet strangely amusing archangel Gabriel. Also, with a willingness to accept smaller film roles, Walken has an uncanny ability to deliver quite memorable performance. In Pennies from Heaven, for example Walken makes a brief appearance as a seamy but seductive and dancing pimp. More recently, as a military buddy of Bruce Willis's dead father in Pulp Fiction Walken is riveting—sober and commanding, even as the content of his monologue shifts from noble to amusingly outrageous.

Walken has quite aptly described his screen persona: "I am the malevolent WASP." Indeed, he has achieved the American dream by playing an assortment of offbeat characters who typically represent a distortion of America's puritan ideals.

—Cynthia Felando

About this article

Christopher Walken

All Sources -
Updated Aug 08 2016 About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic