Christopher Walken
Photo by Brian Hamill

Christopher Walken: “That’s it, it’s over”

 Listen to Audio Excerpt Listen to Audio Excerpt
Short Profile

Name: Ronald Walken
DOB: 31 March 1943
Place of Birth: Queens, New York, USA
Occupation: Actor

Mr. Walken, has anybody told you lately that you have great hair?

You know, it’s funny you say that because the lady who sold me a movie ticket in New York recently said, “You’ve got great hair!” It’s funny to have a stranger say to you, “Here’s your ticket. Wow, you’ve got really good hair.”

But you’ve always been into your hair, haven’t you?

Yeah and I’ve always had good hair.

How do you feel now that it’s gray?

… It’s true, I wish I was young.

Is it that bad?

What happens now is… I remember I was in Toronto and I went to the movies. And there was a young girl at the counter and she automatically gave me the senior discount. That hadn’t really happened before. You know, they’ll ask you sometimes, but she just gave it to me automatically. And I thought, “That’s it, it’s over.”

At least you still seem to have the energy of a young man.

Yeah, but I’d still rather be young again.

What do you do to keep fit?

I exercise everyday. I have a treadmill and I do that 7 days a week. I do 2 miles and I watch Charlie Rose.

What’s the secret to maintaining a youthful attitude?

Well, just trying. It comes and goes. Green tea. I mean, my wife, I have a wife of almost 50 years, and I have a feeling that she looks after me a little bit like I was 7 years old. I don’t have kids. Maybe that has kept me young.

What about pets?

I have a cat.

What’s he called?



I had another cat who died, Flapjack. That’s the thing about cats, they die. Have you seen Henri, the French cat?

No, what is that?

Oh you have to see it. It’s hilarious. It’s on YouTube and it’s a cat who speaks French. And he’s very depressed. He says things like, “I’m surrounded by morons.” (Laughs) There’s a white cat that he lives with who he loathes. And he says, “Look at this idiot. All he thinks about are cheeseburgers.” I just saw it the other day and I tell everybody to watch it.

Who do you look up to, beside Henri the French cat?

Well, in my generation it’s obvious. When I was a kid it was Brando and Olivier.

Now you are an icon yourself.


Maybe not quite like Brando, but you’re more respected and admired than most people out there.

I’m just the oldest.

Well you have also been in some incredible films – the scene between you and Dennis Hopper in True Romance is one of my favorites of all time. Are you ever fully satisfied with your performances?

Oh, I don’t know. For me, in movies, it’s always a mixed bag. I’ve never made a movie where I thought, “You were really good in that movie; you were good all the time.” No. It’s always, “You didn’t get it, you didn’t do it in that scene, but the other scene is pretty good.” So I just hope that in balance there’s more good scenes than not.

Scene between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance (1993)

Are you a perfectionist?

I don’t think it’s perfection. I think it’s just for real.

Thankfully the editor can take out most of your mistakes.

A lot of it has to do with the director, actually. There are certain directors where you know you’re going to be good or you’re not going to be there. There are people where you kind of know that if you miss the mark then it’ll probably not be in the movie and that’s very reassuring.

There are also people where that’s unfortunately not the case…

There are movies that I’ve made where I thought I was going to be good, but when it was cut it together it wasn’t. And there are a lot of movies that, for one reason or another, just don’t become popular. So to me it’s always been a little bit of a roll of the dice. That’s the way it goes. I’ve made quite a number of movies that I’ve never even seen and I’ve made some movies that I thought were good that nobody saw… Sometimes they end up on television, you know.

“Movies are strange. You have to be a little bit lucky with them. I’ve never made a movie I wasn’t surprised to see.”

What’s it like when you come across an old film of yours on TV?

I’ve done a lot of things I cringe when I watch and some things I’m proud of… Movies are strange. You have to be a little bit lucky with them. I’ve never made a movie I wasn’t surprised to see.

Surprised in a good way?

Not necessarily, no. But I’m always surprised.

Do you have any regrets?

Well, yeah. You mean parts that I shouldn’t have taken?


Oh yes, absolutely.

For example?

No, no, I won’t go there…