Christopher Walken is an American actor.
His birth name is Ronald Walken.
Christopher Walken was born on March 31, 1943 in Astoria, Queens, New York City.
His father, Paul Walken, was a German immigrant who ran Walken’s Bakery while his mother Rosalie was a Scottish emigrant from Glasgow, Scotland.
Influenced by their mother’s own dreams of stardom, he and his brothers, Kenneth and Glenn, were child actors on television in the 1950s.
In 1961, Walken enrolled at Hofstra University. But, little more than a year later, he landed a role in an off-Broadway musical Best Foot Forward, and decided to leave college.
Walken initially trained as a dancer in music theatre at the Washington Dance Studio before moving on to dramatic roles in theatre and then film.
Up until 1964, he performed under his given name, Ronnie Walken before changing it to Christopher.
In 1966, Walken played the role of King Philip of France in the Broadway premiere of The Lion in Winter. That same year, Walken had a role in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo for which he received a Theatre World Award.
Walken made his feature film debut in 1971 with a small role opposite Sean Connery in Sidney Lumet’s The Anderson Tapes.
In 1972’s The Mind Snatchers a.k.a. The Happiness Cage, Walken played his first starring role.
His breakthrough role came five years later with his memorable turn in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). Walken played the homicidal and borderline crazy brother of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).
Walken won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deer Hunter. He plays a young Pennsylvania steelworker who is emotionally destroyed by the Vietnam War. To help achieve his character’s gaunt appearance before the third act, Walken consumed only bananas, water, and rice for a week.
Walken was lured back by The Deer Hunter (1978) director Michael Cimino for a role in the financially disastrous western Heaven’s Gate (1980). Costing more than $40 million to make, the film was savaged by the critics and earned little at the box office.
Than he surprised audiences and many critics and with his intricate tap-dancing striptease in HerbertRoss’s musical Pennies from Heaven (1981).
This was followed by a role in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel, The Dead Zone (1983).
Walken went through some amount of turmoil in his life during the shooting of Brainstorm (1983). On November 29, 1981, Wood accidentally drowned while the boat was moored off Catalina Island in California. Walken and Wood had worked together on what proved to be her final film, the science-fiction thriller Brainstorm (1983). Speculation about Wood’s death lingered for years.
In 1985, Walken played a James Bond villain, Max Zorin, in A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s last appearance as Bond. Walken dyed his hair blond to befit Zorin’s origins as a Nazi experiment.
At Close Range (1986) starred Walken as Brad Whitewood, a rural Pennsylvania crime boss who tries to bring his two sons into his empire.
Walken played the leading role of Whitley Strieber in 1989’s Communion, an autobiographical film written by Strieber based on his claims that he and his friends were subject to visitations by
unknown, other-worldly entities variously identified as possibly “aliens” or, simply, as “visitors”.
King of New York (1990), directed by Abel Ferrara, stars Walken as ruthless New York City drug dealer Frank White, recently released from prison and set on reclaiming his criminal territory.
Christopher Walken also made a number of appearances in some of the most significant films of the
decade, such as Batman Returns (1992), True Romance (1993) and Pulp Fiction (1994) and Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995).
Known to work constantly, Walken takes on a wide variety of films.
In 1995, he also appeared in Wild Side, The Prophecy, Nick of Time, and the modern vampire flick The Addiction.
In 1996, Christopher Walken played the role of a sadistic gangster in Last Man Standing, alongside Bruce Willis.
In 1999 he appeared as the Headless Horseman in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
Walken starred in two music videos in the 1990s. His first video role was as the Angel of Death in Madonna’s 1993 “Bad Girl”. The second appearance was in Skid Row’s “Breakin’ Down” video.
Walken also had a notable music video performance in 2001 with Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice”.
Another Academy Award nomination came for Walken for his performance as Frank Abagnale Sr. in Catch Me If You Can (2002), with the junior role played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is inspired by the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a con artist who passed himself off as several identities and forged millions of dollars’ worth of checks.
After his Academy Award nomination, Walken was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor for his roles in The Country’s Bears (2002), Kangaroo Jack (2003) and Gigli (2003).
Walken played the role of Paul Rayburn in 2004’s Man on Fire, where, when speaking about the imminent destructive actions of John Creasy (Denzel Washington), his character states: “A man can be an artist… in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasy’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.”
Walken played significant roles in comedies like Wedding Crashers (2005) and Click (2006).
In the 2007 film adaptation Hairspray, Walken playing the husband of a gender-bending John Travolta.
In 2009 he appeared in a comedy The Maiden Heist co-starring Morgan Freeman and William H Macy.
Walken returned to Broadway in Martin McDonagh’s play A Behanding in Spokane in 2010, and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.
He played roles of criminals in Kill the Irishman (2011) and Stand Up Guys (2012) and was seen as a dognapping schemer in crime comedy film Seven Psychopaths (2012).
Walken played the founder and leader of a string quartet in A Late Quartet (2012).
In 2014, Walken played Captain Hook in the NBC production Peter Pan Live!
In 2016, he voiced King Louie in the CGI-live action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Christopher Walken has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows.
Walken has received numerous awards for his performances and work. These include an Academy Award and Golden Globe for The Deer Hunter, an Oscar nomination for Catch Me If You Can, two BAFTA Awards, an Emmy Award, several Film Critic, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Five films featuring Walken have won Oscars, and he has added to these with several prominent awards from the theatre.
Christopher Walken has an estimated net worth of $30 million.
Walken married Georgianne Walken (née Thon), a casting director, in 1969. The couple have no children. Walken has stated in interviews that having no children is one of the reasons he has had such a prolific film career.
The couple lives in Wilton, Connecticut and they also have a vacation home on Block Island, Rhode Island.
Jerry Lewis influenced Walken to make show business his career. At age 10, he met Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950), where Lewis and Dean Martin were guest hosts. Walken was an extra on the show and was in a skit with Lewis.
As a teenager, he worked as a lion tamer in a circus.
Walken has different-colored eyes (one blue and one hazel). This is a condition known as heterochromia.
He won an MTV Video Music Award for choreographing his own dancing in Fatboy Slim’s 2001 music video “Weapon Of Choice”, directed by Spike Jonze.
When he did the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter (1978), he was remembering being sent to summer camp by his parents, which he hated. He felt betrayed, ostracized, alone – which he felt the character was experiencing at that point in the film.
He rarely turns down a part, under the belief that making movies (whether they turn out good or bad) is always a rewarding experience.
At the beginning of The Dead Zone (1983), he tells his class to read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Sixteen years later, he plays The Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Had read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” for an audio book.
He prefers to be known informally as Chris instead of Christopher.
Walken manages to insert a little dance number into nearly all of his roles, no matter how small, scripted or not.
His wife, Georgianne Walken, and his brothers, Ken Walken & Glenn Walken, still call him “Ronnie”.
Walken has a phobia of going too fast in cars.
Loves horror films featuring zombies.
He Doesn’t use a computer or own a cell phone.
Walken is a very skilled chef.
Ranked #1 on Tropopkin’s Top 25 Most Intriguing People.