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INT: Christopher Walken

07.13.2005

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 – get this – 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 he’s played, but it’s certainly one of the unlikeliest.

Walken is no stranger to comedy. He first garnered acclaim as Diane Keaton’s shady brother in ANNIE HALL. And his Saturday Night Live performances are legendary – just walk into any random bar at around midnight and you’re likely to find some drunken frat guy begging for “more cowbell.” Hey, it could be worse – at least they don’t yell “Show me the money!” 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. It’s 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. That’s the first time I’ve ever played anybody… 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. I’ve heard that, but that’s not true. I’ve never noticed that anybody treats me that way. I think what happens is that the audience, I think, because of all the parts I’ve played that were villains, or something like that, that there is an expectation that I’m going to be villainous. That’s why it’s 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, everybody’s writing in scenes for you to dance?

I didn’t know that. They didn’t write it into the scene. You know, it’s a wedding; of course, people dance. I’ve danced in movies where it wasn’t gratuitous; I just started to dance for no reason. Maybe I’ve done that too much. But in this movie… sure, it’s a wedding. It makes sense.

Have you ever crashed a wedding?

No… no. I’ve crashed… 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?

They’re wonderful. Now, there’s probably more good young actors than ever.

Was it easy for you to get into your role?

Yeah. This was… 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 weren’t acting, you could see that they like each other. They enjoy each other. So, that’s 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 didn’t. We went to work and had fun there, but I didn’t know anybody really. Owen is very nice. He’s quiet. He’s a quiet man. I didn’t get to know him, no.

How about Vince?

Vince… you know, Vince is big. He’s a big guy, and he’s a big personality. Yeah, I probably got to know Vince a little better. (Laughter.)

Could you elaborate on that a little?

Vince is… wonderful. Fun. He’s a big guy.

He’s got a sense of humor.

Yeah. And he’s a big personality. He’s 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 don’t say, “What do you think is my motivation?”

I just thought, a younger actor would, because you’ve had so much experience that—

No. I remember when I was a young actor, an older actor said to me, “Don’t work so hard.” That was good. (Laughs)

Do you refuse scripts often?

I’m more inclined to say yes.

Why is that?

Because I like to work.

Do you have plans to do more comedies?

I’m going to one this summer. I’m going to make a movie with Adam Sandler called Click.

Who do you play in the movie?

It’s hard to say. (Laughs) No, it’s very difficult to talk about a movie before you make it because… every movie I’ve ever made, when I see it, it’s different than I thought.

What’s it about?

This movie?

Yeah.

It’s about a man who goes… and I don’t want to say too much. It’s 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?

It’s very difficult to know. Obviously, some people are more famous. Some people think I’m famous, some people don’t know who I am. Fame is relative.

Do you enjoy it?

Yes. If I was an actor at my age and people didn’t recognize me, I would be very depressed. (Laughs) As a matter of fact, sometimes when I walk down the street, time will go by… you can tell when people know you. Even if they don’t 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 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.” (Laughs)

Chris, you’ve 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 you’re right. Nowadays, if I have a choice, I try to stay a little bit away from things. I’ve done so many villains. And, also, for a long time I did not get certain parts. Now, I get to play somebody’s uncle, somebody’s 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 you’re playing a father, and you don’t have children of your own, do you wish that you’d had that emotional experience?

I don’t know. I mean, I pretend. It may be better. I don’t think… I got into movies late, and I don’t think I could afford children. If I had had children – and, also, I traveled all the time – I don’t think I would see them. I don’t think I could give them a lot of things. My wife always worked, so we always had two jobs. It’s good that I didn’t have children. Good for them. (Laughter.)

What’s 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 don’t play sports. No sports. No golf, tennis.

Do you go online at all?

I don’t have a computer. You know, I don’t have a cell phone. I don’t have a wrist watch.

You act like you’re cavalier toward acting itself – “Don’t work too hard” and all of that. But do you ever wonder where that scary guy, that intense guy, where you drew that from?

I didn’t do it. I think it’s just… 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, it’s how you look. And I’m pale; I’m naturally pale. But, also, the first two movies I made that people saw were both… 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)

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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