Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why We Like Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken being creepy.

“I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own.”
Christopher Walken

While Christopher Walken has appeared in more than one hundred movies—comedic, dramatic, and whatever you’d call Batman Returns1—and played as wide a range of characters as any actor of his generation, he is best known to the movie-going public for his portrayals of villains. From Max Zorin to Max Schreck, from The Man with the Plan to Gabriel, Walken’s articulate intensity, distinctive offbeat cadence of speech, and gift for showing quiet, controlled menace has brought about a long and memorable succession of cinematic bad guys.

Christopher Walken being (left to right): creepy; creepy; whatever the
next step up after “creepy” is; funny but creepy (note creepy mustache).

Regarding his clipped, staccato delivery, Walken once said:
“I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put. A period but it’s not necessarily where somebody. Else would. I think everybody should talk. The way they want. . . . You go to school and you all . . . sit there; and all learn to do . . . the same. Thing. I guess it’s necessary. But it’s too bad also. In a way? Kids. You know, get kind of. Restrained, in a lot of ways. I probably wouldn't get a job. As an English teacher.”2

Christopher Walken, possibly deciding whether to kill you or buy you a sandwich.

So memorable are his performances as villains that it is sometimes difficult for audiences to accept him as a regular character. Even when he’s ostensibly one of the “good guys”—such as in Blast from the Past, Wedding Crashers, or The Dead Zone, it’s easy to remain convinced that his character is the kind of guy who’d tell you a knock-knock joke where the punchline is him stabbing you in the knee with a pencil.

While we’re sure he’s not at all a weird guy in real life, and while he’s performed as normal or at least weird but non-evil characters on countless occasions, it’s partly the aura of intimidating, menacing presence that he’s cultivated over the years that makes the following such a joy to behold:

1. Don’t get us wrong, we love Batman Returns—we’re just not sure what to call it. If Burtonism is considered its own separate film genre at this point, we’d submit Batman Returns as one of Burton’s most Burtony attempts at Burtonism.
2. It’s possible, if not particularly. Likely, that we added unusual punctuation here for. Humorous effect.

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