Christopher Walken - Biography - IMDb
Christopher Walken Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (8)  | Trivia (81)  | Personal Quotes (88)  | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameRonald Walken
Nicknames Chris
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Nervous-looking lead and supporting actor of the American stage and films, with sandy colored hair, pale complexion and a somewhat nervous disposition. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Deer Hunter (1978), and has been seen in mostly character roles, often portraying psychologically unstable individuals, though that generalization would not do justice to Walken's depth and breadth of performances.

Walken was born in Astoria, Queens, New York. His mother, Rosalie (Russell), was a Scottish emigrant, from Glasgow. His father, Paul Wälken, was a German emigrant, from Horst, who ran Walken's bakery. Christopher learned his stage craft, including dancing, at Hofstra University & ANTA, and picked up a Theatre World award for his performance in the revival of the Tennessee Williams play "The Rose Tattoo". Walken then first broke through into cinema in 1969 appearing in Me and My Brother (1969), before appearing alongside Sean Connery in the sleeper heist movie The Anderson Tapes (1971). His eclectic work really came to the attention of critics in 1977 with his intense portrayal of Diane Keaton suicidal younger brother in Annie Hall (1977), and then he scooped the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 1977 for his role as Nick in the electrifying The Deer Hunter (1978). Walken was lured back by The Deer Hunter (1978) director Michael Cimino for a role in the financially disastrous western Heaven's Gate (1980), before moving onto surprise audiences with his wonderful dance skills in Pennies from Heaven (1981), taking the lead as a school teacher with telepathic abilities in the Stephen King inspired The Dead Zone (1983) and then as billionaire industrialist Max Zorin trying to blow up Silicon Valley in the 007 adventure A View to a Kill (1985). Looking at many of Walken's other captivating screen roles, it is easy to see the diversity of his range and even his droll comedic talents with humorous appearances in Biloxi Blues (1988), Wayne's World 2 (1993), Joe Dirt (2001), Mousehunt (1997) and America's Sweethearts (2001). Most recently, he continued to surprise audiences again with his work as a heart broken and apologetic father to Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can (2002).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: André Hansson <> and firehouse44

Family (4)

Spouse Georgianne Walken (January 1969 - present)
Children None
Parents Russell, Rosalie
Wälken, Paul
Relatives Glenn Walken (sibling)
Ken Walken (sibling)

Trade Mark (8)

Always tries to work a jig (dance) into his movies
Haunting, dark humour-filled, monologues
Distinctive, clipped delivery
Frequently plays very calm, restrained individuals with immense capacities for violence
These days his hair is always greased back or standing up
Smooth voice and quirky delivery
Often plays criminals and crime bosses
Unique Queens accent

Trivia (81)

Jerry Lewis influenced Walken to make show business his career. At age 10, he met Lewis on The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950), where Lewis and Dean Martin were guest hosts. Walken was an extra on the show and was in a skit with Lewis.
Walken initially intended to study dancing instead of acting, but dropped out of Hofstra University after one year when he landed an off-Broadway musical "Best Foot Forward" in 1963.
Ranked #96 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Brother of Glenn Walken and Ken Walken.
Was George Lucas' second choice for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Worked briefly as a lion tamer in a circus at age 15.
Attended the Professional Children's School.
Has a phobia of going too fast in cars.
Was assaulted in a street in New York in 1980 when he asked two men to turn down their music. His nose was broken in the incident.
Was robbed at the airport in Venice and his The Prophecy II (1998) script, glasses, keys, drivers licence, and $100 were stolen. All items were later found, except for the money.
Was on Natalie Wood's yacht the night she drowned.
He and Nick Nolte were both considered for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Manages to insert a little dance number into nearly all of his roles, no matter how small, scripted or not.
Won an MTV Video Music Award for choreographing his own dancing in Fatboy Slim's 2001 music video "Weapon Of Choice", directed by Spike Jonze.
Member of Saturday Night Live (1975)'s prestigious "Five Timers Club".
At the beginning of The Dead Zone (1983), he tells his class to read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Sixteen years later, he plays The Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow (1999). Later in the film, he has a student whom he's tutoring to read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". Later in life, Walken read the poem for an audio book.
Met wife, casting agent Georgianne Walken (née Thon), while touring with "West Side Story" in Chicago. [1963]
Has an intense dislike of handguns.
Along with Alec Baldwin, he has a standing invitation to host Saturday Night Live (1975) every year (if scheduling permits).
When hosting Saturday Night Live (1975), he likes to sing during his monologues (which has become a crowd pleasing favorite). So naturally, when co-hosting SNL specials, his introduction song "I'm Walkin, Im 'Talkin" (for the rhyme of his last name) is played.
Is only the second person in history to be nominated for both Best Supporting Actor from the Oscars, for Catch Me If You Can (2002), and Worst Supporting Actor from the Razzies, for The Country Bears (2002) in the same year. The first was James Coco, who was actually nominated for both awards for the same role in Only When I Laugh (1981).
Danced with Judy Garland at Liza Minnelli's 16th birthday party.
The son of a baker.
In his 35 years in film, he has acted in well over 90 films. He rarely turns down a part, under the belief that making movies (whether they turn out good or bad) is always a rewarding experience.
Adopted the name "Christopher" when a friend told him the name suited him better than "Ronnie". Has since stated that his adopted name sounds "like a sneeze", and he prefers to be called "Chris".
At the time of filming The Rundown (2003), he had never seen the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and was therefore reluctant to use the phrase "Oompah Loompah" in his final scene. When learning of this, director Peter Berg gave him a copy of the film, and he finally decided to use the phrase.
Has played three different characters with the name Max, in Kiss Toledo Goodbye (1999), Batman Returns (1992), and A View to a Kill (1985).
Has different-colored eyes (one blue and one hazel). This is a condition known as heterochromia.
One of the few hosts of Saturday Night Live (1975) who has hosted enough times to have his own recurring skit ("The Continental").
Loves horror films featuring zombies.
Was nominated for Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for "James Joyce's The Dead."
In order to achieve the gaunt, withdrawn and hollow look of his character in The Deer Hunter (1978), it's reported that he ate a diet consisting of only rice and bananas in preparation for this film.
Alternated with his brother Glenn Walken in the role of Mike Bauer on the soap opera Guiding Light (1952) (1954-1956).
Ranked #1 on Tropopkin's Top 25 Most Intriguing People [Issue #100]
His father, Paul Wälken (1903-2001), was a German emigrant, from Essen, and moved to New York in 1928. His mother, Rosalie (Russell), was from Glasgow, Scotland, and came to the U.S. in 1930. She lived to be 102 years old (May 16, 1907 - March 26, 2010).
He said in an interview that he has never turned down a role.
Was considered for the role of Number Two in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).
Was considered for the role of Capt. Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
Had read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" for an audio book.
His performance as Nick Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter (1978) is ranked #88 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Lost out to Ryan O'Neal for the romantic lead in Love Story (1970).
Received the Shakespeare Theater's Will Award in 1994 for his contributions to classical theater.
In the early 1960s he earned a job as one of three men dancing and singing with Andy Warhol favorite Monique van Vooren in her sultry nightclub act.
Was considered for the part of Andy in Deathdream (1974).
Doesn't use a computer or own a cell phone.
Was the first to play King Philip of France on stage for "The Lion in Winter" in 1966, at the Ambassador Theatre, New York City.
He lives in his house in the country, while his wife lives in their New York apartment. Walken says the only people he sees when he is not working are the garbage men.
Is a very skilled chef.
Was named after his mother's favorite actor, Ronald Colman.
His wife, Georgianne Walken, and his brothers, Ken Walken & Glenn Walken, still call him "Ronnie".
Has said that a 200-film career is not out of the question.
Received Harvard's "Hasty Pudding Man of the Year" award on February 15, 2008.
Cannot swim very well.
A frequent host of Saturday Night Live (1975), he has also been parodied on the show by Jay Mohr. The youngest ever regular cast member was Anthony Michael Hall, who succeeded him in the television series based on The Dead Zone (1983), and who, like Walken, has appeared in the Batman film series.
He was nominated for a 1975 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for his performance in "Sweet Bird of Youth," at the Academy Festival Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
He appeared on Saturday Night Live (1975) doing a Christmas medley called "Walken In A Winter Wonderland" which he dedicated to his mother who hated that he played so many villains.
When he did the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter (1978), he was remembering being sent to summer camp by his parents, which he hated. He felt betrayed, ostracized, alone - which he felt the character was experiencing at that point in the film.
He has been a huge fan of Elvis Presley since his mid-teens.
Quit smoking cigarettes in his late thirties.
Rosie O'Donnell said he was one of the scariest people alive. Later, he appeared on her show, gave her flowers and a box of chocolates, and sang "Getting to Know You" with her.
Was cast in the role of Eric Qualen in Cliffhanger (1993) but left before filming began. The part went to John Lithgow.
Lives in Wilton, Connecticut, and has a vacation home on Block Island, Rhode Island.
Has twice played a Hessian: in Valley Forge (1975) and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
In both The Stepford Wives (2004) and Click (2006), portrays a man who hands over a sleek futuristic remote control with sci-fi capabilities.
In 2009, he had the honor of interacting with the entire cast of Saturday Night Live (1975) at the time they were doing impersonations of him in a sketch called "Walken Family Reunion".
His senior quote from high school (The Profesional Children's School) is from Shakespeare's "Love's Labours Lost" Act II, Scene I: - "the merry madcap lord - not a word with him but a jest; and every jest but a word".
Wilton, Connecticut: lives there with his wife, Georgianne, and their cat, Bowtie [January 2013]
As of 2014, has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Annie Hall (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Pulp Fiction (1994). Of those, Annie Hall (1977) and The Deer Hunter (1978) are winners in the category.
Gave a dramatic reading of the lyrics of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2001).
Lampooned by Eddie Izzard in his stand-up routine.
Lampooned on The Simpsons (1989) by an impersonator, giving an unsettling reading of "Goodnight Moon" at a Book Festival.
The first Academy Award-winning actor to play a main James Bond villain in A View to a Kill (1985). The other two (as of 2015) are Javier Bardem in Skyfall (2012) and Christoph Waltz in Spectre (2015).
Is widely known to be a very private man.
Shares a fairly similar background, though not politics, with Donald Trump: both were born in Queens, in the 1940s. Both of their mothers were Scottish immigrants, and both of their fathers were of German origin (though Christopher's father was an immigrant, while Trump's father was born in the U.S., to immigrant parents).
The August 28, 1985, issue of Variety, in the Production Pulse section announced that the film "The Conspiracy" began filming August 26, 1985, in Yugoslavia. Director was Michael Anderson with stars Christopher Walken, Robert Mitchum, Paul Scofield, Alice Krige, and others. No evidence the film was ever completed or released.
The May 4, 1988, edition of Variety, announced the film "Atuk" began filming February 16, 1988, but production halted after one day. Director was Alan Metter. The cast included Christopher Walken and Ben Affleck.
He has appeared in three films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Annie Hall (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Pulp Fiction (1994).
Owns an original pair of Muhammad Ali's boxing shorts inscribed with "Muhammad Ali (1971) - The Real Champ". He keeps them framed at his home.
No explanation has ever been given why Christopher's wife Georgianne Walken did not accompany him on the 1981 Thanksgiving weekend boating trip to Catalina with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. The only other person on the boat was Dennis Davern.
Mentioned in the song "Hackensack" by Fountains of Wayne.
He played the main James Bond villain in A View to a Kill (1985). Sadly, due to the passings of the film's Bond star, Roger Moore in 2017 and the film's main Bond woman, Tanya Roberts in 2021. Walken has become the first main Bond villain actor to outlive both the actor playing Bond and the main woman of the same instalment.

Personal Quotes (88)

I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own.
I make movies that nobody will see. I've made movies that even I have never seen.
Is typecasting really a problem?
My hair was famous before I was.
If you want to learn how to build a house, build a house. Don't ask anybody, just build a house.
I can't imagine being somebody else. And anything I play, my reference is completely from the planet Show Business. I don't know anything about anybody else, people that I've known all my life--my family, my brothers--I don't know . . . I only know about me.
Emotional power is maybe the most valuable thing that an actor can have.
At its best, life is completely unpredictable.
I think that a good movie creates its own world, and that world needn't refer to anything that's real. If it's consistent, if it's entertaining, if it's interesting, it justifies its being there.
I always think that in movies or on stage, two people can be talking to each other--the audience doesn't necessarily have to know what they're talking about, just so long as they know that YOU know what you're talking about.
I used to be prettier than I am, but I think I look better now. I was a pretty boy. Particularly in my early movies. I don't like looking at them so much. There's a sort of pretty thing about me.
Bear costumes are funny . . . Bears as well.
I've enjoyed making movies for lots of different reasons. Sometimes, it was the other people. Sometimes, it was the fact that I was really good in it. Sometimes, it was the location. Sometimes, it was the paycheck. Sometimes, it can be lots of different things, or a lot of those things. Or there can be reasons why you'd like to avoid it the next time. Like the jungle. I've made a couple of movies in the jungle, and I don't want to go back to the jungle.
Back home, I do the same things every day. Exactly the same. I eat at the same time, I get up at the same time, I do the same things in the same order. I read. I have coffee. Then I study my scripts, I exercise on the treadmill, I make myself a little something to eat. I am a great believer in the Mediterranean diet.
Careers are not often as chosen as people think they are. People talk to me about my choices. I don't make choices, hardly. Things happen, and you say yes or no--usually "yes", because it's always better to do something. What's the choice? Somebody will say, "Don't do that part, you don't need to do that part.' And I'll say, "Why not? What am I going to do? Sit around the house?" I'd much rather go to work, and see actors, and have fun.
I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising. Slow and steady is a very good thing for me. It works for me.
[on how he selects his acting roles] I don't choose that much. I just sort of take what's there. I don't have much else to do. I don't have a lot of hobbies. I don't play golf. I don't have any children. Things that occupy people's time. I just try to take jobs. I basically work so much because I'm lazy.
[on guns] I don't even like holding them. Whenever I hold a gun, I want to get it out of my hand as quick as possible.
I don't particularly like to do anything dangerous. And here I was in Bangkok [filming The Deer Hunter (1978)]. I was in the jungle and in the mountains. Being an actor has taken me places that I never would have gone to . . . It's been a very interesting life.
I eat the same things all the time: fish, hardly ever meat. Chicken, vegetables. I'm fond of steamed sea bass over leeks. I don't drink hard liquor. I like wine.
[on his routine] I get up early, at six or seven, and have coffee. I usually read in the morning. And then, if I have a script, I do that for a while. Then I exercise at a certain time. About noon. I like to cook, so usually, I'll be making something. And I have my script. My favorite thing is to have two scripts. It's great to study two things at the same time.
I have been in movies that I thought I wasn't very good in. I think, "Chris, don't let your mouth hang open like that next time. Look at that facial tic. Don't walk in such a self-conscious way!" But sometimes, I watch myself and I think that I am terrific--and that is really nice.
I have this theory about words. There's a thousand ways to say "Pass the salt". It could mean, you know, "Can I have some salt?" or it could mean, "I love you.". It could mean, "I'm very annoyed with you". Really, the list could go on and on. Words are little bombs, and they have a lot of energy inside them.
[on Pulp Fiction (1994)] I put aside an hour every day to go over that monologue again and again for months, and every time I got to the end of it, I would crack up.
I was already 35 years old, and I'd been in show business for 30-plus years, and suddenly there was this big movie and I was getting an Oscar, and this enormous thing happened. In Annie Hall (1977), I played the strange brother who wanted to drive into oncoming cars. Immediately after that was The Deer Hunter (1978), where I played this nice guy who shoots himself in the head. Something happened there. The fact that they came so close together, and they were both important movies, two big public things where I was simultaneously . . . "disturbed". That got the ball rolling for me in terms of being an actor.
I won't do commercials, either. I don't want to sell anything. As an actor, it's tricky. You have this platform and it has to do with your face, your charisma. It's tricky when you endorse something because people are liable to believe you. Be careful.
I would like to be a very old man and still be acting. So I feel lucky to have stuck around for this long. You have to be good and all that, but you also have to be lucky. I guess in everything. But especially if you're an actor. So I got no complaints.
I'm serious. I do not like the unknown or the unexpected. I cannot stand being surprised, yet as an actor I like surprise. I get very upset if my bills aren't paid immediately.
I've always been a character actor, although I'm not quite sure what that means. All my scripts are absolutely covered in notes, so any time I say anything--even "pass the salt"--I have six subtexts, comments on what I really mean when I'm saying that. Maybe that's what gives the impression that I'm saying one thing and thinking something else.
[on what makes him choose parts] Lots of things. The script, the directors, the location, the actors, how much are they going to pay me? How long is it going to take?
[on if he does research to prepare for a role] No. The soul is in the words, comes from the words, not research. [Research is] useless, waste of time. And exhausting. I just don't know how to do it. I only know my own experiences. People are completely mysterious to me. Even in my own family I have no idea what any of them are thinking.
People always comment about my hair. It is unusual for a man my age to have so much.
There were years when I didn't do anything but collect unemployment. I worked a lot, but I worked for nothing. I worked for 15 years as a kind of janitor at the Actors Studio. I would do manual things. I did lots of plays, theater workshops, for nothing.
[on how he memorizes lines and prepares for a role] What I do has a lot to do with the words. My favorite thing is to have two scripts at the same time, and study them simultaneously in the kitchen. Go over the words, over and over, do them different ways, different inflections and rhythms. For me, rhythm is very important. I think we express ourselves as much with rhythm as with the words. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. I think it's very true. If you start to say your lines and it sounds right, usually I stick with that. If it sounds right, it probably is right. It's curious, how you're not collaborating with anyone at that point, and by the time you get there with other actors on the set, usually what you've done at home makes sense, and it's acceptable to everybody. The thing I have trouble with, because I'm so dependent on knowing my lines, is that if suddenly somebody says, "Here's a big speech. You're going to do that instead," I get lost. At that point, I understand why Marlon Brando loves cue cards.
What I used to do was, I'd get the script and see who the character was--a spy, a lumberjack, whatever--then I'd try to dress the part for the audition, to give the impression that I was tough or funny or whatever the part seemed to call for. That was always a disaster. I would never get the job. If I learned anything it's not to do anything like that. Now if they want to look at me, I go in and let them look at me. Let them figure out their own reasons for why they'd want to hire me.
[on why he hates not to be working] When I don't have any work sometimes, a kind of thing sets in where my mind shuts down. It's almost like hibernation. It's not that I'm unhappy, but I'm not thinking anything. Then I'll go and watch television. And after an hour or two, I'll think, "You're just sitting there watching television and it's not even interesting". And there's nothing to do. Life becomes meaningless.
With stage fright you keep on doing it and eventually the fear goes away. If you stick around long enough you become very hard to intimidate. It is very difficult to make me nervous about working these days. There have been so many times when I thought I was finished, but it was not true - you just keep going. I am scared of sickness, pollution and crazy people but, work-wise, there is nothing to frighten me.
[on his process of acting] You know. it's really tricky. People have no idea. How do you do it? Most of the time I don't. I mean, I can't. You just do it as well as you can. And, hopefully, you did some good stuff here and some good stuff there. The best part is going home in the car at the end of the day, and thinking, "I was good".
I think that movie sets when they're good, are a lot like sandboxes.
People think that my favorite roles to do are villains, but I find comedy to be the most challenging and rewarding.
I would make a very bad killer in real life because I don't think I could even pick up a gun, much less actually shoot one. Guns make me very nervous. They're dangerous. I'm more of a pacifist than anyone could imagine.
[on Quentin Tarantino] Movie scripts are usually pretty loose--things usually change a lot. But not with [Quentin Tarantino]. His scripts are absolutely huge. All dialogue. It's all written down. You just learn the lines. It's more like a play.
Me and Dennis Hopper, when we were doing that scene in True Romance (1993), it was hilarious. It really was--including shooting him. All that laughing was real. He was killing me. And all the guys around us--that was a very cracking-up day.
Golf. My God, that's a mysterious occupation. I know people who are--good friends--who are absolutely smitten, practicing their swing and talking about it. I can understand some sort of sport where your body got a benefit, like marathon running or bicycle racing. That's not golf. And not only that, but the whole business of standing in the sun--my God. That's like torture.
Professional dancers don't go dancing.
I don't like zoos. Awful.
When I was a kid, there was someone in my family, an adult, and whenever I saw them, they would say, "You got a lotta nerve." From the time I was a little kid, it was always like, "Heh, heh, heh--you got a lotta nerve." I always thought, "What does that mean?" But then when I got older, I thought that it was an instruction. If you tell a kid something, it sticks. I think I do have a lot of nerve. But, I mean, I think I maybe got it from that person who said it to me.
There's something dangerous about what's funny. Jarring and disconcerting. There is a connection between funny and scary.
They say that the human smile is in fact one of those primordial things--that in fact it's a showing of teeth, that it's a warning. That when we smile, in a primeval way it has to do with fear.
Sometimes I look at this watch and I think, "There's some guy that puts these little screws in there?" There is something about it. I'm not into cars, either, but there is something about a really magnificent car.
It all happened when I did The Deer Hunter (1978)]. Suddenly--I'd already been in show business for 30 years, and nothing much had happened. I mean, I really was laboring in obscurity, and then suddenly this movie. It was kind of infectious, and I really did become rather social. Gregarious. And that lasted, I don't know, ten years.
I had an agent when I first got into the movies who said to me, "You're gonna be in Los Angeles now once in a while. If somebody invites you to a party, don't go. Stay in your room, go to the movies." And I have a feeling I know sort of what he meant: Don't show your face around too much. Let 'em be a little glad to see you.
When you're onstage and you know you're bombing, that's very, very scary. Because you know you gotta keep going--you're bombing, but you can't stop. And you know that half an hour from now, you're still gonna be bombing. It takes a thick skin.
I love spaghetti. And I like to cook spaghetti. And I used to eat it every day. I weighed 30 pounds more than I do now. You can't . . . you can't do that. Ice cream--I love to watch television and eat ice cream. But that's like a ten-year-old. I can't do that anymore. Beer. Beer, spaghetti, ice cream.
I always figured that if I'm gonna be playing these people, that there should be this relationship to the audience that is very clear. "That's Chris, and look at Chris having a good time, wanting to take over the world and sink California and shoot everybody in the room"--just so long as they understand that that's Chris on the set having fun. And that Chris wouldn't really do anything like that.
Most of the jobs I get are basically very unwholesome people. There's always something wrong with the guy, and sometimes something deeply wrong. I'm tired of that. I tell my agent I want a Fred MacMurray part. I want a part where I have a wife and kids and a dog and a house, and my kids say to me, "What do you think I should do, Dad?" and I say, "Be careful."
I used to love Danish. My father used to make a Boston cream pie. You never see that anymore. Very good.
My father was a lesson. He had his own bakery, and it was closed one day a week, but he would go anyway. He did it because he really loved his bakery. It wasn't a job.
That's supposed to be a fact, that the question mark is originally from an Egyptian hieroglyph that signified a cat walking away. You know, it's the tail. And that symbol meant--well, whatever it is when they're ignoring you.
I remember once, years ago, I was walking out a door--I'd been having a conversation and I was walking out the door, and this guy said to me, "Chris," and I stopped and I turned, and he said, "Be careful." And I never forgot that. And it comes back to me often: Be careful. That was good advice.
Morning is the best time to see movies.
Well, I missed the boat on computers. I think I was really just on the cusp. If I had been a little bit younger, I probably would have a computer. But when they came along, it looked so boring to me that I just never bothered. But also when something is ubiquitous, it's almost redundant. I don't have a wristwatch either because if I need to know what time it is, I ask somebody. I got stuck in an airport a while ago, and I always carry quarters so that I can use the payphone, and I tried all these payphones and they just didn't work. I guess nobody uses them anymore. And somebody asked, "Would you like to use my cell phone?" There are enough of them around. If I need to know something about something, I say to my wife, "Can you check this out on your computer", and she comes back within ten minutes with the information. I use it, I just don't have it.
[on taking clothes from movie sets] For example, [Batman Returns (1992)], when I was shooting it I got very interesting clothes and accessories. On my last day of shooting I had already thought a long time about what I would like to take with me. I had some beautiful cuff links. When I had finished my last scene and went back to my dressing room, everything was already gone. Everything!
My weakness as a director was if somebody would ask me something I'd say, "Just do whatever you want". My impression is that a director must be a little like a general. You'd hate me to be running a war because I wouldn't know what anybody is doing.
There are just certain roles--well, they never ask me to play the guy that gets the girl, even though I've been married for 41 years now, so I DID get the girl.
[on his home in Wilton, CT] At night I have possums, skunks, lots of raccoons. They come right in the house, through the cat door, and they bring their babies in. I get up at night and they're in the kitchen, eating all the cat food.
[In 1993] I never was a big fan of school, to tell you the truth. I never had kids, but I suspect if I did, I wouldn't encourage them to go to school. I never liked it myself. I was always grateful for being taught to read. I figured that once that had been done for me, that's the big thing. A little bit of adding, subtracting, multiplying, that sort of thing. And you have to learn to write, at least a letter. But beyond that, I think people are over-educated. I think education will come if you want it. I read what I want to read, so that's what I know about. You can't know everything, so you should concentrate on what you're interested in. The whole concept of general education-I think it makes for vague minds.
I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put [in] 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.
[about his hair] When it's wet, I stick it up with some gunk and walk around and let the air dry it and then it stays there. I have good hair. I have a lot of hair. Whatever I do must be good for it, because I've still got so much. Every time I meet guys I went to school with, they've got no hair.
If somebody were to do the story of my life, not that anybody would, it would be about my wife and me around the house. It would be like watching paint dry.
[on his style] Garish. Especially when I was younger--I was always a bit exotic. Never wore a hat because the hair was more important.
I know what I'm doing onstage. But in films I have to depend on the kindness of strangers.
I asked this girl to go to the prom and she said she would but that she had a boyfriend, an older guy. Then she took out her wallet and showed me a picture of this handsome guy with the hair, the teeth, who looked like a Greek statue. I thought, "All right", and then I asked to see it again and said, "This is not a photograph. You cut this out of a magazine." She got farmisht and said, "Yes, you're right, I did. I'm so madly in love with him. His name is Elvis Presley." She went with me to the prom. I had her in a compromising position. That's what you get for lying.
[on airports] I can't stand going to the airport. I avoid it as much as I can. I just can't stand it, it's really an ordeal. And if it's an international flight, and you have to fill out those immigration cards? Stay home!
[on making "Weapon of Choice"] I had made a musical called Pennies from Heaven (1981). The director of the video, Spike Jonze, saw that and said, "Christopher can dance. Ask him to do the video". I rehearsed the dance every day for three weeks with the choreographer. Then we went to the location. We shot very quickly. I think we made the whole thing in 12 hours.
[rules to live by] Take care of yourself--eat good, sleep, not too much stress. Don't be greedy!
[on playing Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire"] When I screamed ''Stella!" they couldn't stop laughing.
[on what some see as quirky vibes in his performances] I was, in a sense, raised by musical-comedy people: gypsies, comics. It makes you almost from another country. And I think that in movies that strangeness almost easily translates into menacing or malevolent. When people do my voice and imitate me, I think it's almost that they're making fun of my accent. I grew up with people who spoke English as a second language. It could be I have an accent.
[on acting] There's a playpen aspect. When it's good, it's always there. You're a bit like kids, and you're in a sandbox, and you're making it up--or you think you are. A good director really is like a lifeguard. He sits on a big chair and he's got all these crazy kids in the sandbox and they're playing. Every once in a while, one of them slips or falls out of the sandbox or whatever, and a good director just picks him up and puts him back inside and proceeds.
My life is anything but eccentric. I've been married for 46 years and I pay all my bills, and I live in a house where the lawn is always cut and I'm nice to my cat.
Somebody once said that 80$ of directing actors is casting them in the first place. So you hope that they hired you because you have some particular quality that is going to be useful to them in the movie. Good directors usually hire you and then they kind of leave you alone.
[on protecting Bonny the dog from Seven Psychopaths (2012) at the Toronto International Film Festival] There was this huge guy standing next to me yelling, "Let me pick her up". And I'm protecting the dog, thinking, "If you touch that dog, I will crack you right in the face".
When I was a kid my parents gave me piano lessons and guitar lessons for a while, but I was never very good at it. I have big, sort of awkward hands. It's hard to keep going when you don't get any better.
Males in all nature, they have their plumage. I always think of my hair as a kind of attention-getting device. You know, it basically says, "Look at me", and if you're in show business, that's not such a bad thing. It might be difficult if I worked in an office.
I really just stay home, except when I go to work . . . so in that sense I suppose I'm a regular guy.
I have very acute listening skills. For example, if I'm at a restaurant and there are people around me, whenever I see a person whose conversation may seem interesting, even though he or she may be sitting a few tables away, I focus all my hearing on that person and everything else disappears . . . As if the noise and words the other people just vanish. I can listen and hear every word that person is saying.
I think a good movie creates its own world, and that world needn't refer to anything that's real.
[2016, when asked about the films he's made] I have a nice house.

Salary (1)

The Deer Hunter (1978) $25,000

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