Christopher Walken is everybody’s favorite creepy Hollywood leading man. With a career spanning over 50 years, he’s been in over 140 movies and television shows. Today he celebrates his 78th birthday, so it’s a good time to revisit some of his classic moments.
Christopher Walken’s Rise to Fame
Born in 1943, Walken got his start playing roles in different television anthology series as a child during the 1950s. This gave him the acting bug, and in the 1960s, he appeared in Shakespeare productions, daytime dramas, and even an episode of “Hawaii Five-O.”
Walken gained widespread recognition for his role in “The Deer Hunter,” a 1978 movie where he played a Pennsylvania steelworker psychologically damaged by his service in the Vietnam War. He won an Academy Award for best supporting actor, and scenes like the one below with Robert DeNiro remain emotionally harrowing decades later.
Funny Guy Christopher Walken?
Following “The Deer Hunter,” Walken played intense roles in other classic movies such as “The Dead Zone,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “The Dogs of War.” Fans were also introduced to his lighter side when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1990. Since then, he’s returned six more times and has a standing invitation to host whenever he wants.
In one memorable “Saturday Night Live” sketch, Walken plays a record producer who exhorts rock band Blue Oyster Cult to use “more cowbell!” during a recording session for “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
Walken’s Dancing Shoes
It’s a less well-known fact that Walken is an excellent dancer, which is why dancing is often a part of his roles. He explained to Interview magazine: “It was very typical for people — and I mean working-class people — to send their kids to dancing school. You’d learn ballet, tap, acrobatics, usually, you’d even learn to sing a song.”
One famous routine he did was for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video.
The Later Years
Walken has not slowed down the pace of his work even as he’s gotten older. More recent projects include playing Captain Hook in NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” in 2014 and providing the voice for King Louie in Jon Favreau’s version of “The Jungle Book” in 2016. And in 2021, he has three more movies in production.
So, wherever Christopher Walken is today, his fans are wishing him a happy birthday. (And maybe he’ll even get a cellphone as a present!)