Thursday, August 22, 2013

10 Things You Never Knew You Always Wanted to Know About Christopher Walken

Recently I started thinking about celebrity biographies I'd like to read.  Among the front-runners: Bill Murray and Christopher Walken.  Amazingly, neither one has a published biography -- authorized or unauthorized.  Murray has written a paean to golf, called Cinderella Story (Three Rivers, 2000).  It has plenty of the actor's trademark wry humor, but it reveals very little about the man or his films.

Christopher Walken hates golf.  That's one of the many things I learned from reading Robert Schnakenberg's Christopher Walken: A to Z (Quirk Books, 2008).  Schnakenberg's book is not a biography, so I'm not going to review it as a biography.  Instead I'm going to do what the author does... Provide a list of random facts.  This is not necessarily a cop-out, because.... well, Christopher Walken is pretty random.  I've always believed that, if I met him in real life, he would be just like his performance in the SNL "Census Taker" skit...

We all know that Christopher Walken speaks without punctuation, which has made him one of the most often-imitated actors of all time, and we all know that Christopher Walken can dance (see Pennies from Heaven and that famous FatBoy Slim video), but here are a few things you might not know about Christopher Walken...

Random Fact #1.  Christopher Walken's name isn't really Christopher.  It's Ronald.  When Ronald was about 25 years old, he decided that Christopher sounded more "romantic."  In later years, he thought about changing his name again -- to something "more to the point, a little dark"... like Jack or Nick or Max.  He has played three different characters named Max -- in A View to a Kill (his turn as a James Bond villain), Batman Returns and Kiss Toledo Goodbye.

Walken.  Max Walken.
Random Fact #2.  Christopher Walken credits Jerry Lewis (who he met during a 1953 appearance on the Colgate Comedy Hour) with inspiring him to become an actor.  He credits Elvis Presley with inspiring his hair.

Random Fact #3.  Christopher Walken loves Bugs Bunny.  Quote: "He's so smart, he's so funny, he's got such a great attitude.  Bugs Bunny is the spirit of New York.... You can't fool Bugs Bunny.  That's all I have to say.  He's on to everybody."

Random Fact #4.  Christopher Walken was originally considered for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars.  Other near-misses: Deckard in Blade Runner, Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Dave Kujan (Palminteri's role) in The Usual Suspects, Jack Byrnes (DeNiro's role) in Meet the Parents, and Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.  He also tried in vain for years to get a John Holmes biopic off the ground -- with himself in the lead role, of course.

Random Fact #5.  Christopher Walken doesn't like restaurants because he doesn't like people touching his food.  As a result, he is an accomplished chef.  He even had his own cooking show in 1999, called Cooking with Chris.  Since then, he has occasionally posted cooking videos on the Internet.  Or, rather, a friend has posted them... because Christopher Walken doesn't own a computer and apparently doesn't know much about the Internet.  At one point he speculated about charging Internet viewers "to take hits, or something like that."  I don't know about you, but I'd love to "take hits" with Christopher Walken.

On a related note...

Random Fact #6.  Christopher Walken smells like garlic.

Random Fact #7.  Christopher Walken loves cats.  "They're so interesting," he says, "and not only that, they're low maintenance."  In 1988, he played a singing cat in Puss in Boots, which he privately regards as "one of my best movies" even though "nobody has ever seen this."  In 2001, he wrote a forward to a book called the KISS Guide to Cat Care, a "handbook to feline husbandry" that had nothing to do with the heavy metal band.  In his younger days, he also worked as a lion tamer in a New York circus.  Yup.

Random Fact #8.  Christopher Walken hates guns.  Seriously.  Frank White hates guns.  Who knew?  He's also hates neckties. 

Random Fact #9.  Christopher Walken was once a moon-worshipper.  Now, he uses this old rumor as a gag.  "Sometimes when they call for me to be on set, I'll stand outside my trailer and look up at the sky for a long time.  A really long time.  Finally, someone will ask, 'What are you looking at?'  Next thing you know, you have ten people standing looking up at the sky for no particular reason.  Then I'll just casually walk off."  I'm not sure if this has any bearing on his performance in Sleepy Hollow, which he claims was based on Lon Chaney Jr.'s performance in The Wolf Man.

Random Fact #10.  Christopher Walken wants to make a zombie movie, or so he told Conan O'Brien in a 2003 interview.  I'd like to think that if Christopher Walken wants to make a zombie movie, somebody in Hollywood will make that happen... as a public service.  This needs to happen. 

Random Fact #11.  Unlike Bill Murray, who feels that being loved by fans is a bit of a burden ("It's a lot of pressure," he explains, because "you're expected to love back, and hell hath no fury like a fan scorned!"), Christopher Walken seems to like the constant attention.  He says, "If I walk down the street and nothing happens... I get sad.  And, then, you know, like a miracle, an angel, somebody will say, 'Hey, Chris!'  And then I go, "Ah!  Well, it's okay.'"  So, by all means, if you see him... give the man a shout-out.

Now, how to conclude this post?  Hmmmm.

How about... a bedtime.... story...

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