The Top 5 Ripoffs of Christopher Walken Roles (By Walken Himself)

The Top 5 Ripoffs of Christopher Walken Roles (By Walken Himself)

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."

The movies:
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.

The movies:
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.

The Angel of Death

Why he's perfect:
For those of you who still want to see Adam Sandler's Click untainted, well, you should stop reading now. Oh and forget that you saw the above pairing of header and photograph (we'd imagine forgetting stuff is easy for those of you who fall into this category). Although vastly different takes on the same biblical character, both of these films hinge on Walken's distinct otherworldly vibe.

The movies:
Morty in Click

In the grand tradition of faux-intellectual character names, it turns out that Walken's kooky inventor Morty is actually (gasp!) Gabriel, the aforementioned Angel of Death. Really? That's the twist you came up with, Mr. Screenwriter guy? Had you, maybe, just seen The Devil's Advocate? Not surprisingly, similarly brilliant writing relegates Walken to little more than creepy self-parody.

Gabriel in The Prophecy

How important is heart removal and consumption to you in a film? If your answer falls anywhere between "mildly" and "absolutely necessary", then
The Prophecy is the horror flick for you. Thanks to the high level of irony deposits in movies like Click, it would be impossible for Walken to ever again play a B-horror movie so unabashedly straight. But, in 1995 if you needed an ultra-sincere super-powered death angel with an apocalyptic bent, Walken was your man.

And the winner is ...
Neither is worth two hours of your time. Still, we think there's a barely perceptible smirk in Walken's otherwise straight-faced Prophecy performance, which makes it a hell of a lot more enjoyable than the all-too-intentional zaniness of Click.

Italian mob boss dead set on finding young couple

Why he's perfect:
Based purely on physical appearances, you'd probably get even-money on Walken versus a stiff breeze. When he springs into action, though, it's an entirely different story. Something about him just says "veiled menace." We don't know if it's the pregnant pauses, the penetrating eyes or the raspy baritone (hell, maybe it's just because he's from Queens), but it makes Walken the perfect pretend crime boss.

The Movies:
Vincenzo Coccotti in True Romance
Just like Excess Baggage, at the time this early '90s flick written by Quentin Tarantino traded off the brief, road flare-esque fame of a young couple (this time, Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette). In retrospect, though, it's Walken's performance as an intimidating mob boss that, along with a turn from fellow lifer Dennis Hopper, brings the real star power. Some print editions of Webster's actually define "acting" with the below YouTube clip:

In retrospect, the message of True Romance is clear: steal cocaine from Chris Walken, and you'll get a paunch, receding hairline and the last 10 years of Christian Slater's career. However, little did Walken know, that a scant decade later he'd lose Tarantino and the f-bombs, add Jerry Bruckheimer, and end up playing ...

Salvatore Maggio in Kangaroo Jack

We could have just as easily included his turn as Carlo Bartolucci in Suicide Kings here, but we've gone with Kangaroo Jack because of its edgy pre-Brokeback pairing of Jerry O'Connell and Anthony Anderson as a couple in love and on the run through the Australian Outback. Walken is essentially playing a parody of his True Romance role (right down to the ridiculously Italianized name). Kangaroo Jack replaces the suitcase full of cocaine with a rapping kangaroo, and replaces the audience's brain with cotton candy.

And the winner is ...
This one is a coin toss... assuming you have some kind of rare disease that will cause you to die a painful death if you watch any film other than Kangaroo Jack.

Vietnam War Vet who can't let go

Why he's perfect:
For a long period in the late '70s and early '80s, every young, ambitious director wanted to make a Vietnam War movie. Here was a chance to make a film that was about, like, issues, man, but still contained plenty of fireball explosions. For a character that's been in the shit and lived to tell about it, Walken's perfect. Even as a young man, he's always had the look of guy who's seen more than his fair share.

The movies:
Nikonar "Nick" Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter
After watching all three hours of this 1978 film, it turns out America's involvement in Vietnam was a lot like a really overwrought metaphor. Or something. But hell, the movie won the Oscar and catapulted a young Walken to fame, so what do we know? And even we can appreciate the frightening intensity of Walken's performance in the famous Russian roulette scene.

McBain in McBain
If Nick lost all that distracting angst and complexity, and instead emoted solely through snappy one-liners, he'd be McBain. The movie's premise is brilliant in its simplicity: What if an A-Team-like crew of Vietnam Vets tried to take over a small, South American country? And, what if it was really, really unintentionally hilarious? Like, for instance, what if it featured a scene where Christopher Walken took down a fighter jet with one invisible magic bullet?

True story: Rainier Wolfcastle, The Simpsons' recurring Schwarzenegger stand-in, used to be called McBain, until the producers of this movie forced a name change. You know, to make sure people would take them seriously.

And the winner is ...
The Deer Hunter has awards and symbolism and all that jazz, but come on! Magic bullets! If he'd had those in Deer Hunter he could have safely fired that revolver through his skull and killed all the Viet Cong in the room instead.

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