Christopher Walken's work ethic puts all but the most industrious porn stars to shame. The last time America went a full year without seeing him in a film, it was 1975. So, it's no surprise that sometimes he repeats the same roles.
Blessed as we are with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and freed from the distractions of careers or progressive sexual lifestyles, we've managed to assemble some of the most glaring repetitions and judged which are worth watching.
Fair-haired, power hungry villain named Max (who will die before the end of the movie)
Why he's perfect:
Walken plays villains well and often, in fact, a little too well and too often. How's a director supposed to take any credit if an actor's doing the exact same, brilliant thing he did in his last movie? Luckily, nothing says "auteur's touch" like a big ol' batch of hair dye. Also, a power-hungry villain named Max? Come on, Hollywood. We're surprised Forrest Gump wasn't called "Johnny Historychange Cripplelegs."
Max Shreck in Batman Returns
After 1989's Batman made more money than God, everybody in Hollywood wanted a piece of the sequel. Leave it to Walken to casually stroll in and nab a key role at the last moment. Unfortunately, with Danny DeVito's penguin-monster and Michelle Pfeiffer's S&M-woman causing incredibly confusing dreams for pre-teens everywhere, Walken's turn as an Enron-exec-gone-worse gets a little lost in the background.
Max Zorin in A View To a Kill
We wonder what exactly causes this to be considered the worst Bond film of all time. Is it the sight of Roger Moore using his AARP card to seduce women decades his junior? Or, is it Walken's role as a villainous, steroid-fueled Nazi/KGB super-baby who's trying to corner the microchip market, no part of which we made up? We may never know, but it's hard to fully hate a movie that has Walken participating in this exchange:
(Max and May Day hover over Silicon Valley in their airship)
May Day: Wow! What a view!
Max Zorin: To a KILL!
And the winner is ...
For a good movie, the answer's obvious, but for some good Walken, it's a bit of a toss up. Sure, he's competent in Burton's superhero blockbuster, but for the manic, over-the-top Walken we know and love, his take on a Bond baddie is classic.
Concerned father figure of missing delinquent youth
Why he's perfect:
It's stretch to say Walken has a "sensitive" side, but his nervous eyes and thin-lipped smirk, when arranged correctly, definitely have a touch of the tragic. "Paternal" not be the right word, but where others would scream and scenery chew, Walken's performances are downright elegant.
Raymond Perkins in Excess Baggage
It's shocking, we know, that a film featuring Benicio Del Toro as a heartthrob and Alicia Silverstone as a bankable lead actress has not aged particularly well. If you accidentally wind up with this DVD we recommend going right to the chapter-selection screen and only clicking on the ones that have a picture of Walken on them.
Even constrained by ridiculous plot points, he still manages to give an enjoyable turn as Alicia's Uncle Ray. Fine, it's not technically her father, but the plots details--precocious, attention-seeking youth flees home and deceives authority figures--are a spot-on match for Walken's next role ...
Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can
Even under Excess Baggage director Marco Brambilla, whose only other feature experience consisted of (and continues to consist of) Demolition Man, Walken was eminently watchable. However, there might be something to this Spielberg kid. Under his directorial guidance, Walken goes from being an entertaining, if somewhat misused, character actor to a fully realized, poignant supporting role. Good enough, anyway, to lose the Oscar to Jim Broadbent, a man not even famous enough to merit his own snarky pop-culture reference.
And the winner is ...
We have to side with the Academy. They don't hand out the title "Greatest Director of Our Generation" to just anybody with a camera and one of those clappy things.