Christopher Walken, tough guys dance too | ICON

Christopher Walken poses exclusively for ICON in Sitges.Pep Escoda

Christopher Walken (New York, 1943) likes to read the scripts that are offered to him while cooking. And it is a perverse pleasure to imagine him slicing vegetables into julienne strips while he thinks about whether or not he wants to embody another psychopath. A light question: “What is your culinary specialty?” In person, the answer to this question sounds just as you would expect. Imagine her enunciated with her legendary coolness and that baritone voice, which over four decades in the movies has lent the Vietnam veteran of The hunter (1978), the mobster of The funeral (1996) or the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow (1999): “Vegetable”. Dramatic pause. “Fish”. New pause, long enough to count to three or check email on mobile. That is, if the interlocutor did not have his gaze fixed on Walken’s stony face. “Olive oil”. And then he closes with a phrase that had never sounded so disturbing as on his lips: “The Mediterranean diet is very healthy.”

The New York actor is in Sitges to collect the Grand Honorary Award at the Fantastic Film Festival. He has come alone, without a clique and without his wife, Georgianne, with whom he has been married for 47 years, and is a director of casting very reputed. She took care of The Sopranos And, to the chagrin of the fans, it never occurred to her to cast her husband, who is revered here for his roles in Point-blank love (1993) and for having been the villain of Batman returns (1992), by Tim Burton, or the doctor that Stephen King imagined in The dead zone (1983).

“I know what Trump is about. We don’t know each other, but we are the same age and from Queens. Although he is from a more beautiful area than mine. For guys from Queens, hair is very important. And Trump’s is very Queens ”

But there is a simple explanation why Walken has accumulated more than 130 credits as an actor, including that fantastic video clip of Fatboy Slim (Weapon of choice) directed by Spike Jonze and a movie that was last year direct-to-video titled Joe Guarro! Go pringado. He doesn’t like to say no. If they offer him a piece of paper and the agenda fits him, he accepts it. “What I am going to do? I don’t have hobbies, I just work, ”he says, as if that explains everything.

But it has its preferences. He does not like to make movies in mountains, deserts, rivers, or jungles. He prefers a set. “They close the door and it is night. If it has to rain, they make it rain. That’s what I like”. His mother, a fantasy and mythological Scottish immigrant who called herself Pink In tribute to classic Hollywood actress Rosalind Russell, she is to blame: “She was a real fan. He loved movies and magazines. My real name is Ronald, after the actor Ronald Coleman, whom I adored. He got me and my two brothers into the cinema ”.

He also made them learn dance and tap dancing. He liked? When I was a kid, everyone took tap dance classes. In those days, after World War II, people would send their children to dance class. It was okay, we got a different education. I did not go to the University, I went to show business.

Was he watching the plays behind the scenes? In those days they let you, especially if they knew you. I could get into any Broadway play during the break. I swallowed each show 10 or 12 times in good times. I remember seeing Gipsy, Funny girl, Something funny happened on the way to the forum… My idols were people no one would know now, people like Robert Preston or George Burns. They were real stars, but they didn’t make movies.

Something catches Walken's attention in the middle of the photo shoot.
Something catches Walken’s attention in the middle of the photo shoot.Pep Escoda

He also frequented the Actor’s Studio. What differences did you see between these Stanislavski apprentices and Broadway actors? Those on Broadway were much more fun, especially the dancers. Knows? In musicals there were no dressing rooms for men and women, but for singers and dancers. The singers were all with their scarves around their necks, drinking hot tea. Instead, the dancers spent the day drinking and smoking. They would go out all night and then perform at the theater. Those at the Actor’s Studio were much more serious. Also, the best were never there. I did teach a few classes, but just for testing. It was more of a social thing, because everyone went there. I did not learn in schools, but by observing my classmates.

Suddenly, at 34 years old and with a solid career in the theater, they call him from the cinema and he releases two films in a year. And what movies. Annie Hall and The hunter. How did you experience that jump? There are certain directors who if they hire you you know that you are going to do well, that they are going to take care of you. In my experience, if you work with Steven Spielberg, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Abel Ferrara, with whom I have done six films … if they put you in their film, you don’t have to worry.

You don’t include Michael Cimino on the list? The journalist Peter Biskind said of him that he is so megalomaniac that, next to him, Francis Ford Coppola looked like Mary Poppins. Ah, I don’t think so. Michael was very closed, very quiet. I think he decided to be alone.

Well, it is always said that the industry turned its back on it after the failure of The heaven’s Door (1980). But that happened to a lot of people and then they recovered. He kept writing. I think that’s what he was from the beginning, a writer. And like many writers, he was a loner. After The heaven’s Door He stayed home and became a doctor of scripts, the ones that fix other people’s.

“There are directors who if they hire you you know that you will do well, that they will take care of you. In my experience, Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino or Abel Ferrara…, if they put you in their movie, you don’t have to worry “

How did Cimino explain his role as Nick in The hunter? His character is also very quiet. He claims that he likes to shoot deer because he likes “the trees in the mountains.” Somehow it marked the type of roles that he has done afterwards. We never talked about it. When I met him he said: “Did you read the script? What character do you think would be the best for you? I replied that I saw myself in the role later played by John Cazale. He offered me Nick. I do not know why. Maybe he looked at me and thought I was doing fine.

Have you ever said that you walkenizan the scripts, he sometimes accepts a role and when the script is returned to him, his character has changed, they have made him weirder, more like a Christopher Walken character is supposed to be. Yes, they do it all the time, they make them weirder. I do not know why. In the movies they are always fixing, fixing, fixing. I have made films in which at the beginning they give you a script and on the first page you see an author. Then they send it back to you revised and there are already two authors. By the time filming starts there are sometimes seven signatures and that’s always a bad sign. Every screenwriter who comes in to “polish”, as they say, they get paid. So, even if the screenwriter thinks he’s fine, he feels he has to do something to justify his salary and always puts his hand to the text.

Christopher Walken poses for ICON with well-groomed hair.  For the Queens, hair is very important.
Christopher Walken poses for ICON with well-groomed hair. For the Queens, hair is very important.Pep Escoda

Is it true that you are one of the three or four people in the world who can present Saturday night live Whenever you want, you just have to call the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, and say, “Hey, I’m coming”? I don’t know if that is still true. Before, yes, but it has been six or seven years since I filed a Saturday night live.

Their sketches of the show are memorable. Would you have liked to do more comedy in the movies? No the truth. But maybe I will from now on.

You have never moved to Los Angeles, don’t you like it? I don’t like driving. I’m a terrible driver, so it would cost me a lot. I live in the country and I don’t go to New York much either.

He was a regular at Studio 54, does the New York of today resemble the one from the seventies or the one you knew as a child? Well, New York is changing. When I was young, Times Square was very interesting and very different, a little dangerous. Now remember Disneyland. And Broadway the same. But there you can’t hope that things won’t change. Maybe soon everything will become interesting again. In that city, construction is constant. Wherever you go, you can’t escape the noise of construction. There is no notion of a quiet neighborhood.

You are the same age as Donald Trump and you were born in the same neighborhood as him (Queens). Do you know something that the rest of us don’t? Do you understand Trump as only one can understand someone from your people? Of course I know what Trump is about. We don’t know each other, but we are the same age and from Queens. Although he’s from a nicer part of Queens than me. For guys from Queens, hair is very important. And Trump’s hair is very Queens. Also his way of speaking.

Sometimes it is said of you that you look like an actor from another era. What career do you think you would have had if you had worked in the 1940s? I could have done more musicals. Now they are not made, they are too expensive.

Really? But people always picture him as Robert Mitchum, not Gene Kelly. It’s just that I’m not as good as Gene Kelly.