Christopher Walken (born Ronald Paul Walken; March 31, 1943 in Astoria, New York) is an Academy Award-winning American actor of stage and screen, in a career spanning more than 60 years. A prolific actor, he has appeared in over 100 movie and television roles, notably including A View to a Kill, At Close Range, The Deer Hunter, David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone, King of New York, Batman Returns, True Romance, Catch Me If You Can and Pulp Fiction, as well as music videos by recording artists such as Madonna and Fatboy Slim.
Walken appeared as the Archangel Gabriel in the first three Prophecy movies, as well as his frequent guest-host appearances on Saturday Night Livenote , his most notable being The Bruce Dickinson (not that Bruce Dickinson) in the "More Cowbell" sketch and The Continental (based on an actual TV character from an obscure 1950s show; but most people wouldn't know that). In the United States, films featuring Walken have grossed over $1.8 billion. He has also played the main role in the Shakespeare plays Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and even Coriolanus. Famous film roles were Nikanor "Nick" Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and in Pulp Fiction, as Captain Koons, a Vietnam War veteran, which has since become a pop culture icon. In fact, his prolific film appearances relate to his own policy of never turning down film roles unless he's too busy, finding that each and every role is a learning experience.
His distinctive style of speaking, including random pauses, wild enunciation and a tendency to change voice pitch at random, have made clips from his movies subject to a great deal of Memetic Mutation, and he's one of the most imitated actors out there along with the likes of Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeff Goldblum, and William Shatner. He doesn't actually sound much like most of his impersonators. You're still... imagining!... this article...in his...illustrious voice!
As pointed out by the top quote, Christopher Walken doesn't cherrypick with the roles he takes. He just plain loves making movies.
A former professional dancer, which he got to show off in the 1981 film version of Pennies from Heaven (where he played a dancing pimp), his opening monologue from one of his hosting stints on Saturday Night Live, the 2007 rendition of Hairspray, as well as the aforementioned Fatboy Slim video, which consists solely of him dancing in an empty hotel.
- The Anderson Tapes (1971): His film debut.
- Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976) - Robert Fulmer
- Annie Hall (1977) - Duane.
- The Deer Hunter (1978) - Nick Chevotarevich (this is where he won the Oscar)
- The Dead Zone (1979) - Johnny Smith
- Heaven's Gate (1980) - Nate Champion
- The Dogs of War (1980) - Cat Shannon
- Pennies from Heaven (1981) - Tom the Dancing Pimp
- Brainstorm (1983) - Michael Brace
- A View to a Kill (1985) - Max Zorin
- Biloxi Blues (1988) - Sgt. Melvin J. Toomey
- The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) - Kyril Montana
- King of New York (1990) - Frank White
- Batman Returns (1992) - Max Shreck
- True Romance (1993) - Vincenzo Coccotti
- Pulp Fiction (1994) - Captain Koons
- The Prophecy (1995) - Archangel Gabriel
- The Addiction (1995) - Peina
- Nick of Time (1995) - Mr. Smith
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995) - The Man With The Plan
- Last Man Standing (1996) - Hickey
- Ripper (1996) - Detective Vincent Magnotta
- MouseHunt (1997) - Caesar the Exterminator
- Suicide Kings (1997) - Charlie Barrett
- The Prophecy II (1998) - Archangel Gabriel
- Antz (1998) - Colonel Cutter
- Blast from the Past (1999) - Calvin Webber
- Sleepy Hollow (1999) - Headless Horseman
- The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000) - Archangel Gabriel
- Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video (2001)
- Joe Dirt (2001) - Clem
- Scotland, PA (2001) - Lt. McDuff
- The Country Bears (2002) - Thimble
- Catch Me If You Can (2002) - Frank William Abagnale Sr.
- Gigli (2003) - Detective Stanley Jacobellis
- Kangaroo Jack (2003) - Salvatore Maggio
- The Rundown (2003) - Hatcher
- Man on Fire (2004) - Paul Rayburn
- Romance And Cigarettes (2004) - A brief cameo.
- Wedding Crashers (2005) - William Cleary
- Click (2006) - Morty
- Hairspray (2007) - Wilbur Turnblad
- Balls of Fury (2007) - Feng
- Disaster! (2008 - 2015, theme park attraction) - Frank Kincaid
- Seven Psychopaths (2012) - Hans
- Jersey Boys (2014) - Gyp De Carlo
- Peter Pan Live! (2014) - Captain Hook
- The Jungle Book (2016)- King Louie
- Nine Lives (2016) - Felix Perkins
- '50s Hair: His distinctive pompadour.
- Adam Westing: His many, many, many eccentricities are a goldmine of parody, which he himself regularly takes part in, notably on SNL.
- Ascended Meme: A variety of strange quotes and character tics have turned him into something of an icon.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He naturally comes across this way, and a lot of roles and media love to play this up.
- The Comically Serious: Special mention goes to Colonel Koons in Pulp Fiction and Ed Glossier from SNL.
- Cold Ham: Both his conviction and his numerous quirks are all expressive enough.
- Doing It for the Art: Takes nearly every role offered to him, not because he needs the money, but because he thinks every role is a learning experience.
- Emphasis On The Wrong Syllable: An oft-imitated speech pattern of his.
- Kubrick Stare: Walken will invoke this in his more villainous roles, like his performance in True Romance.
- Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: While he is mostly devoted to comedy nowadays, his early career consisted of more serious performances, like his Oscar-winning role in The Deer Hunter.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Especially in Tim Burton films, Walken often plays unsettling or creepy characters.
- Renaissance Man: Outside of acting, he is also a professional dancer, singer, comedian, and even a former circus performer (he did a stint in a travelling circus as a lion tamer's "son" the summer he was 15).
- Thousand-Yard Stare: His characters always seem to stare off into the distance. Apparently, this is because Walken is always reading cue cards.
- Typecasting: He's usually a weirdo or a villain, with a few exceptions such as The Deer Hunter and Hairspray.
- Verbal Tic: Several: An irregular rhythm, unusual changes in pitch, and long pauses.note