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INT: Christopher Walken


Known primarily for playing intense, unstable characters in films like THE DEER HUNTER, Christopher Walken lends his considerable talent to more lighthearted fare this week in the WEDDING CRASHERS. He plays Ė get this Ė the Secretary of the Treasury, and father of two daughters who become the targets of crashers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. It may not be the most challenging role heís played, but itís certainly one of the unlikeliest.

Walken is no stranger to comedy. He first garnered acclaim as Diane Keatonís shady brother in ANNIE HALL. And his Saturday Night Live performances are legendary Ė just walk into any random bar at around midnight and youíre likely to find some drunken frat guy begging for ďmore cowbell.Ē Hey, it could be worse Ė at least they donít yell ďShow me the money!Ē anymore.

JoBlo Note: I don't normally add my two bits to Tom's great write-ups, but this Walken interview has got to be one of the grooviest that I've personally ever read on this site. Of course, "grooviness" is all relative, but Walken's honesty is great here, and some of his deadpan responses are amazing. The man gets "sad" when people don't recognize him on the street...tee-hee.

Christopher Walken

You play the Secretary of the Treasury in this film. In another life, could you see yourself getting into politics?

No. And that was really the first thing I noticed about the part. I thought it was so interesting that they would ask me to play the Secretary of the Treasury. Itís bizarre.

What were some of your favorite memories of shooting the film?

It was a wonderful, you know, lots of things about it: a wonderful cast, the director is terrific. It was a very good script; even before I met anybody, you could see it was a good, funny script. But, then, for me it was something different, to play a father, a good guy, the Secretary of the Treasury. Thatís the first time Iíve ever played anybodyÖ what can I say? Trustworthy. (Laughs)

People have mentioned that when you sense people are in awe of you that you have an easy way of disarming them and making them comfortable.

No. Iíve heard that, but thatís not true. Iíve never noticed that anybody treats me that way. I think what happens is that the audience, I think, because of all the parts Iíve played that were villains, or something like that, that there is an expectation that Iím going to be villainous. Thatís why itís good to do something different.

Like a music video.

Or this. You know, I play, basically, a nice man.

And you had a good time. The director said he wrote in the scene where you dance. Are you finding that, after the Fatboy Slim video, everybodyís writing in scenes for you to dance?

I didnít know that. They didnít write it into the scene. You know, itís a wedding; of course, people dance. Iíve danced in movies where it wasnít gratuitous; I just started to dance for no reason. Maybe Iíve done that too much. But in this movieÖ sure, itís a wedding. It makes sense.

Have you ever crashed a wedding?

NoÖ no. Iíve crashedÖ you know, when I was a kid, I suppose I crashed some parties. A wedding is different. You have to have the clothes, you have to know some facts in case somebody catches you.

What do you think of these young actors now?

Theyíre wonderful. Now, thereís probably more good young actors than ever.

Was it easy for you to get into your role?

Yeah. This wasÖ to be with these people that are all very talented and young is nice. And you can see that Vince and Owen, even when they werenít acting, you could see that they like each other. They enjoy each other. So, thatís good.

You seem to have an offbeat sense of humor, and so does Owen. I was wondering if there was a special bond there. Did you guys connect at all?

You know, we didnít. We went to work and had fun there, but I didnít know anybody really. Owen is very nice. Heís quiet. Heís a quiet man. I didnít get to know him, no.

How about Vince?

VinceÖ you know, Vince is big. Heís a big guy, and heís a big personality. Yeah, I probably got to know Vince a little better. (Laughter.)

Could you elaborate on that a little?

Vince isÖ wonderful. Fun. Heís a big guy.

Heís got a sense of humor.

Yeah. And heís a big personality. Heís not quiet.

Do lots of younger actors come to you for advice?

No. You know, actors, as far as I know, they never talk about acting. Never. They talk about movies, they talk about girls, they talk about restaurants. But they donít say, ďWhat do you think is my motivation?Ē

I just thought, a younger actor would, because youíve had so much experience tható

No. I remember when I was a young actor, an older actor said to me, ďDonít work so hard.Ē That was good. (Laughs)

Do you refuse scripts often?

Iím more inclined to say yes.

Why is that?

Because I like to work.

Do you have plans to do more comedies?

Iím going to one this summer. Iím going to make a movie with Adam Sandler called Click.

Who do you play in the movie?

Itís hard to say. (Laughs) No, itís very difficult to talk about a movie before you make it becauseÖ every movie Iíve ever made, when I see it, itís different than I thought.

Whatís it about?

This movie?


Itís about a man who goesÖ and I donít want to say too much. Itís about a man who goes back and forth in his life. He sees the future and the past.

What do you think about your celebrity status?

Itís very difficult to know. Obviously, some people are more famous. Some people think Iím famous, some people donít know who I am. Fame is relative.

Do you enjoy it?

Yes. If I was an actor at my age and people didnít recognize me, I would be very depressed. (Laughs) As a matter of fact, sometimes when I walk down the street, time will go byÖ you can tell when people know you. Even if they donít look at you or say anything, you can tell that somebody saw you and that they know who you are. And if I walk down the street and nothing happensÖ I get sad. And, then, you know, like a miracle, an angel, somebody will say, ďHey, Chris!Ē And then I go, ďAh! Well, itís okay.Ē (Laughs)

Chris, youíve built this great reputation and great career doing these intense roles. In the last few years, have you made a conscious effort to try to reverse that because it actually was a stumbling block to getting different kinds of roles?

I think youíre right. Nowadays, if I have a choice, I try to stay a little bit away from things. Iíve done so many villains. And, also, for a long time I did not get certain parts. Now, I get to play somebodyís uncle, somebodyís father. That took a long time. So, for me, just in terms of thinking about career, I try to stay away from bad guys too much.

Now that youíre playing a father, and you donít have children of your own, do you wish that youíd had that emotional experience?

I donít know. I mean, I pretend. It may be better. I donít thinkÖ I got into movies late, and I donít think I could afford children. If I had had children Ė and, also, I traveled all the time Ė I donít think I would see them. I donít think I could give them a lot of things. My wife always worked, so we always had two jobs. Itís good that I didnít have children. Good for them. (Laughter.)

Whatís a typical day like for you?

I live kind of in the country. I live in a nice place. With trees. My favorite thing is to have a script or maybe two scripts, to be at home and study them and learn the part.

Any hobbies?

No. I donít play sports. No sports. No golf, tennis.

Do you go online at all?

I donít have a computer. You know, I donít have a cell phone. I donít have a wrist watch.

You act like youíre cavalier toward acting itself Ė ďDonít work too hardĒ and all of that. But do you ever wonder where that scary guy, that intense guy, where you drew that from?

I didnít do it. I think itís justÖ first of all, it has to do with before I became a movie actor, I was in the theater, and I almost always did comedy. And musical theater. But in the movies I translate into something a little villainous, I think, because, physically, itís how you look. And Iím pale; Iím naturally pale. But, also, the first two movies I made that people saw were bothÖ I was a disturbed person. In Annie Hall, which was the first really popular thing I did, I was driving into traffic. And in The Deer Hunter, I shot myself in the head. And I think that that was very early, and that established something, that there was something wrong with me. (Laughs)

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