In a film, stage, and TV career that spans more than fifty years, sixty-nine-year-old Christopher Walken — the star of the Fresno Filmworks January movie, A Late Quartet — has surely now played every movie character imaginable.
A young, small-town steelworker wrecked by the Vietnam War? Check.
A schoolteacher turned psychic detective in a Stephen King cult-classic? Check.
A Sicilian mobster with a hateful grudge against Dennis Hopper? Check.The Continental, a self-proclaimed ladies man who tries to seduce neighborhood women into his luxurious apartment with thinly veiled seductive schemes.
A later favorite is Walken’s one-time depiction of heavy metal icon Bruce Dickinson, the record producer and ex-lead singer of Iron Maiden. The classic More Cowbell skit parodies the recording-studio infighting of modern rock band Blue Öyster Cult. Walken struts in and out of the studio in his leather jacket and rose-colored glasses, delivering memorable one-liners — “I’ve got a FEVER and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL” — that continue to spawn T-shirts, memes, and even entire websites.
But despite all those terrific and eccentric roles, I will always love Christopher Walken most for his soft-shoeing appearance in this little gem of a music video:
Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice – dir. Spike Jonze
Not bad for an actor who is often typecast as somewhere between a murderously unstable or tongue-in-cheek villain.
The New York Times interviewed Walken this past November under the headline: “Christopher Walken Isn’t as Weird as You Think.” The venerable actor says his latest part as Peter, the cellist who is dying of Parkinson’s Disease in A Late Quartet, gives him a chance to play things straight, a chance to play himself.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Walken in that role. But I’ll also be looking back with more than a little nostalgia for many of his weirder performances.