These 10 weird Christopher Walken movie roles only begin to scratch the surface of an actor whose quirky persona and delivery have made him a favorite with cinema fans around the globe. Walken has starred in over 100 films and television shows, as well as directing, writing, and appearing in music videos for everyone from Madonna to Fatboy Slim.
Well-versed in both comedy and drama, he’s done Shakespeare, portrayed a sinister angel on multiple occasions, and even delivered a gravity-defying dance routine. He’s also a favorite subject of parody, with his signature deadpan voice and unusual pauses being emulated by everyone from Kevin Spacey to Kevin Pollak (my personal favorite).
In the following post, I’ve listed some of Christopher Walken’s more bizarre roles, although almost any film he stars in could be labeled as somewhat odd. I’ve also included a favorite quote from each movie, although seeing them typed doesn’t do justice to Walken’s magical delivery.
- Duane Hall in Annie Hall (1977) (See Good Romantic Comedy Movies for more movies like Annie Hall) – While Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) tries to romance Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), he must endure encounters with her bizarre brother, Duane. Seemingly out of nowhere, Duane confesses to Alvy his frequent fantasy involving head-on car crashes. A brilliantly bizarre moment, and one that helped propel Walken to bigger and better things.
Great Line: “Can I confess something? I tell you this as an artist, I think you’ll understand. Sometimes when I’m driving… on the road at night… I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The… flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.”
- Feng in Balls of Fury (2007) (See OGM’s article about good 2007 comedy movies.) – Walken is Feng, a supposedly Asian crime lord with a passion for ping pong and Antique Roadshow. He doesn’t kid around when it comes to table tennis, holding tournaments where the losing player is immediately executed by his muscular female bodyguard. When former ping pong prodigy Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) infiltrates the tournament on behalf of the CIA, it leads to a climactic showdown with Feng that includes both men donning electro-shock vests and dueling on a rickety rope bridge. Wearing bizarre outfits that look like they were stolen from the closet of Ming the Merciless, Walken hams it up and raises the bar for bizarro film performances.
Great Line: “Less talkie-talkie, more ping-pong.”
- Captain Coons in Pulp Fiction (1994) (see Father’s Day Movies for more information.) – Being a kid can be frightening enough, but just imagine Christopher Walken appearing and setting you down for a talk. That’s what happens to young Butch (played as an adult by Bruce Willis), as the loony-looking soldier who served with his father in Vietnam arrives to hand over a family heirloom. Of course, there’s no way Butch can forget this brush with weirdness, and years later he braves hitmen, crime lords, and hillbilly rapists to retrieve a gold watch that spent two years up Christopher Walken’s ass.
Great Line: “The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.”
- Nick in The Deer Hunter (1978) – Nick starts off like any other soldier serving in Vietnam, but it all goes horribly wrong when he’s left stranded overseas and becomes something of an expert at playing Russian Roulette (or as much of an expert as one can be). He’s finally tracked down by his pal (Robert De Niro), but the two men are forced to play one last lethal game togather. There are plenty of weird Christopher Walken movie roles, but you’ll never see him look more detached and disturbed. A haunting portrayal…even by Walken standards.
Great Line: “I like to starve myself: it keeps the fear up.”
- Hessian Horseman in Sleepy Hollow (1999) (See our article about Tim Burton Movies for more information.) – When his severed head is disturbed, a bloodthirsty Hessian mercenary who perished during the Revolutionary War returns from Hell to behead others as punishment. It’s not a huge role, but the sight of Walken with crazy hair, a big sword, and pointed teeth is a real scene-stealer.
Great Line: None. It’s hard to talk with a severed head.
- Hatcher in The Rundown (2003) – In the hellish heat of South America, the slimy Hatcher pays his workers peanuts to dig for gold. He’s quick to double-cross a mob enforcer named Beck (Dwayne Johnson) who comes to retrieve his boss’s son, and he’s also fond of oddball references to the Tooth Fairy and Willy Wonka. His final tirade against the poor villagers ranks as one of the great Walken moments.
Great Line: “What am I, psychic?” (obviously a nod to Walken’s performance in The Dead Zone).
- Clem in Joe Dirt (2001) – With a series of crazy aliases, Walken portrays a high school janitor who used to be a made man in the mob. Now he’s in the witness protection program, dancing in the halls and talking to fire extinguishers to pass the time. Luckily, he winds up romancing Rosanna Arquette and threatens to stab Kid Rock in the face with a soldering iron.
Great Line: [talking to a fire extinguisher] “You’re talking to me all wrong… It’s the wrong tone. You do it again and I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron. Hey, tell me, does your mother sew? BOOM. Get her to sew that!”
- Gabriel in The Prophecy (1995) – There’s a war on in Heaven, and the Archangel Gabriel intends on winning it. To do so, he needs to come to Earth and steal an evil soul, but he still has plenty of time to let children play his legendary trumpet, recruit almost-dead agents (including Amanda Plummer and Adam Goldberg), and wax philosophic on the nature of the cosmos. Walken would also star as Gabriel in the second and third films of the series, and he looks just as crazy with his unnaturally black hair and pale complexion.
Great Line: “I’m an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.”
- Mr. Smith in Nick of Time (1995) – While Mr. Smith is intended to be a fairly normal villain, it’s Walken’s unique take on the character that makes him stand out. Trying to force a mild-mannered father (Johnny Depp) into assassinating a governor, Smith seems to be lurking around every corner with an oddball threat or morbid story. It’s not intended to be funny, but there’s just something about the way that Walken appears like a mustachioed specter every few minutes.
Great Line: “That’s right, I did. I killed him. He fucked up one too many times, so I put a bullet in his eye. Then, I put two more into him just to make sure. Now, that was somebody I loved; I loved him! But I got the call, I put him down like a sick animal. So, if you got doubts about what’s gonna happen if you don’t deliver, let me tell you something. I’ll make gravy out of your little girl just to season that Black Irish cocksucker’s meat. You do what you’re supposed to do, young man. You do it now.”
- J-Man in Envy (2004) – If you’re ever approached by Christopher Walken in a bar, it’s best to run away as quickly as possible. Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) doesn’t, and he’s soon drawn into a strange friendship with the drifter known as J-Man. Their relationship ranges from a plot involving a dead horse, to blackmail, to Dingman’s whole family winding up in the J-Man’s cabin in the woods. Here’s another piece of advice: don’t go to Christopher Walken’s isolated cabin.
Great Line: “Don’t hassle me about crumbs man, because I am on the edge of the edge.”
That does it for our look at 10 weird Christopher Walken movie roles. If you can think of any I should’ve included, be sure to give your opinion in our comments section.