In my time here at Daily Actor I have written several posts about Christopher Walken interviews. What I find very funny about them is that in almost every single one Walken insists that he actually is a “regular guy” despite his frequently odd on-screen roles.
In fact, in an interview with The Guardian, Walken attempts to point out just how normal he really is. He says, “My life is really quite conservative. I’ve been married nearly 50 years. I don’t have hobbies or children. I don’t much care to travel. I’ve never had a big social life. I really just stay home, except when I go to work. So in that sense I suppose I’m a regular guy.”
One of those “regular” activities that he does at home is watch hours of television, including movies that he stars in. He explains, “I have one of those satellite things. On my television. And there are maybe 40 channels of movies. So once a day pretty much every day I’ll surf those. I just go from one movie to another, watching 10 minutes of this, 10 minutes of that. And often there’s something I’m in. And sometimes I’m quite good in it. And I’ll sit and watch.” He calls the process “very educational,” adding, “With every movie I make, there are some scenes where I’m good, and some where I’m not. With me, it’s always hit and miss.”
However, despite believing that he is hit-and-miss on screen, Walken confesses that he doesn’t like taking strict direction. He says, “I don’t much like being directed. I enjoy being allowed to play. If somebody insists I do something, I have said: ‘Please – don’t insist I do that. I’m telling you, you’re making a mistake.’ It’s very rare, but it happens. It’s just, as they say, the way the cookie crumbles.”
Another thing that Walken frequently mentions is how angry he gets when a script gets rewritten to fit his unique persona once he agrees to the project. He points out, “Quite often, I’ll be sent a script for a movie. And I find that I like it, so I say I’ll do it. But then they rewrite it for me. They make it quirky. Odd. I find that rather annoying. I call it Walkenising.”
Yet at the same time, Walken doesn’t believe he has taken a strict path in his own career. He says, “I never planned my career. I just decided to work when I could. And you do that knowing sometimes it’ll be good and sometimes it won’t. Temperamentally I’m just that way, and it’s worked out rather well.”
Walken’s prolific career has involved hugely popular movies and forgotten gems, yet there is one role he has yet to tackle that he aspires to. Years ago a director told him that he would make a great Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Though he has never played the role, he admits, “Every day since I’ve spent a certain amount of time going over that part. Reading the lines. Thinking about them. No, nobody’s asked me yet. But someday they might.”
It’s a curious admission — one thinks that considering Walken’s fame and his appeal that he would be able to get a production of The Tempest starring him moving. However, Walken claims he’s never really been able to set up projects on his own. He explains, “People say you make your own opportunities. I’ve never known how to do that. But I squirrel away my nuts for when it comes. And when it does, well, I’m rather good at seizing it.”