I got a fever...and the only prescription for it is Christopher Walken.
Confession...when I was a kid (or maybe I was a pre-teen) I remember watching The Deer Hunter on TV with my parents and thinking that Christopher Walken was really cute. But, I kept it my secret because a lot of people thought he was not only an odd actor but kind of odd looking. (I think the fact that someone under 16 was allowed to watch a movie as heavy as The Deer Hunter, unedited, is the only thing about the story that's odd here, but that kind of freedom is responsible for fostering my life long love of movies.) A few years after that, I watched The Dead Zone and again, found myself fascinated by him but didn't tell a soul.
Now that I'm in my 40s and no longer being judged by my peers, it's time to let my Christopher Walken freak flag fly a little. I think the man is really sexy and extremely talented. It kind of frightens me to think that the young guy I crushed on in the '80s is now 73 years old (where does the time go?) but he's still going strong -- his latest movie, Nine Lives (costarring another fave of mine, Kevin Spacey) opens in theaters this Friday. It doesn't look like the greatest movie and the plot sounds terrible, but it's clearly geared at children and I'm sure Walken -- who plays an eccentric pet shop owner -- will make it more watchable for adults.
So, in honor of his latest release I think it's time to celebrate the wonderfulness of Walken...with a list of ten reasons why he's so cool (and hot.) And no offense to my readers with the title of this blog post...you're all pretty cool in your own way!
1. He Was A Pretty Smoking Babe Back in the Day
A lot of younger fans identify Walken with the "more cowbell" sketch from Saturday Night Live...but what many of them may not know is that earlier in his career, he was a hottie.
In my opinion, Walken -- particularly during the '70s and '80s -- is really unique looking. Beautiful, even. One of my friends, that is not a fan of him, thinks he looks like an extraterrestrial. I think it's just the right combination of genes from a German father and a Scottish mother that created someone so striking.
I thought I was the only person that felt this way, until I started looking up clips from these eras from movies I'd seen and those that I'd missed. Comments from several women...and the occasional man...confirm that I wasn't such a weird little kid after all.
Here he is playing a gigolo in a television movie called Roseland where he asks Geraldine Chaplin if she approves of his overall look. "And the rest of me - eyes, hair, profile? Legs long enough?"
Personally, I'm a fan of his look in The Deer Hunter in the pool playing scene below. The irony of the song the guys are singing is not lost on me.
2. He's an Unbelievable Dancer
I knew that Walken was a dancer way before he wowed everyone in Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" -- he took lessons while young and got early acting jobs in musical theater -- but the performance that blows me away is his tap-dancing striptease from the obscure 1981 movie Pennies From Heaven. The look on Bernadette Peters' face during this scene is pretty much what I looked like the first time I watched it. Be sure to watch the whole thing -- it really gets cooking around the halfway mark. Seriously, he could give Gene Kelly a run for his money here. And what's that old saying about men that can dance and the bedroom?
3. He's a Huge Cat Lover
Real men love cats, which makes Walken all that more appealing in my eyes.
"A (cat) tail is so expressive," Walken has said. "On a cat you can tell if they're annoyed. You can tell whether they're scared. They bush their tail. If I was an actor and I had to played scared in a movie all I'd have to do is bush my tail. I think if actors had tails it could change everything."
4. His Elvis Hairstyle May Be Terrible, But He Owns It
Walken's idol is Elvis Presley. The story behind his hair is that early in his career, he decided to adopt Elvis' swept back pompadour as his own hairstyle and hasn't really deviated from it in decades. Personally, I think Walken would have looked better in several movies had he agreed to let someone in Hollywood give him a more flattering and updated cut. But...no one today can't say he doesn't own it. It's become his trademark. (I know the photo below is from the early '70s, but I think he looks SO much better with a little hair covering part of his forehead.)
5. He Once Worked As a Lion Tamer
Walken recently told Parade about his teen job as a lion tamer. When he was 16 he answered an ad to train as a lion tamer that summer for a one ring circus in upstate New York. The old lioness was "very sweet", rubbing up against Walken and performing tricks such as rolling over and sitting up on her back legs. Backstage, Walken would hang out with her and pet her.
Today, Walken is involved in animal charities and believes animals shouldn't be held in captivity. "I wish there wasn't any such thing as zoos," he says.
6. He Never Takes Himself Seriously
I love that later in his career Walken has taken roles in several silly but entertaining movies, and that he's hosted SNL seven times. In fact he has a long-standing invitation with the show to come by any time and host it. Plus for all of the unsettling roles he's taken, he really comes across in interviews as one of the most down to earth actors. Dare I say it, he may be one of Hollywood's most normal people.
7. He Had the Creepy Clown Look Down Pat As a Kid
Way scarier than any creepy role he took as an adult:
8. He Has A Very Sexy Voice
Yes, his deadpan diction is the stuff that impersonations are made of (and Kevin Spacey probably does the best impression of him) but damn, his voice is another aspect of him that I've always found sexy.
Just listen to him reciting the lyrics to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on Jonathan Ross.
9. He Has One of Hollywood's Longest Lasting Marriages
Walken could have easily become a player and a jerk and dated his way through Hollywood, particularly after winning the Oscar for The Deer Hunter. But instead, he settled down while in his 20s by marrying casting director Georgianne Thon in 1969 and they've been together ever since. In fact, except for Natalie Wood's death (where Robert Wagner confronted Walken and asked if he wanted to f*** his wife) he hasn't been connected to any other scandals or stories of cheating.
For some reason, a lot of people think that Walken has a daughter. He and his wife have no children, something that Walken says has helped him have such a prolific career. They think of their cats as their kids (don't we all.)
10. He Appeared On PBS With Lidia Bastianich
I was watching Lidia Bastianich's Christmas special on PBS last year when Walken showed up for her holiday meal. I wondered what the connection was between the two. It turns out that Bastianich worked in Walken's father's Astoria bakery when she was just 14 years old and new to America. (One time Walken slammed on his car's brakes while delivering wedding cakes, which caused six of them to go flying into the front seat!)
By the way, he can cook, too...yes, this is obviously a parody but there's a video uploaded to YouTube where he's making the same chicken recipe, for real, in his kitchen.
The guy is just too cool.