In this episode of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’, Mister tidy-beard himself, James Lipton, interviews actor extraordinaire, Christopher Walken, live on stage in front of a class of film students.
Now after a rather coy introduction by James, straight away Christopher delves right into answering a number of James’ questions relating to his origins. Hypothesizing about his strained time at school and on television. Before giving a very personable insight of his German Father and his Scottish 'stage mother' – who was the person who pushed Christopher into the life of a performer at a very young age.
Next, Christopher elaborates on a number of his own Shakespearean theatrical performances, explaining how he was utilized more of as a dancer, and where he first met Lisa Minnelli. This then flows into his film work, where he comments on such movies as 'Annie Hall' - 'The Dear Hunter' - 'Penny's From Heaven' - 'At Close Range' - and 'Biloxi Blues'. Moreover, where Christopher’s films are concerned, he also elaborates on the other actors who aided him in his craft. And how they made him a better actor by trusting their instincts.
Retrospectively, this latter topic brings Christopher right back to his younger days when he was a struggling actor trying to get a place in the Actors Studio. Conveying how long it took him to get in, and what he learnt when he got there. Thankfully, this arduous experience appears to have kept young Christopher in good steed. Because it has made him into becoming one of the most off-beat actors today.
In closing, James asks Christopher questions from Bernard Pivot structured questioner. And we learn that his favorite word is ‘Lunch’ and worst word is ‘Bed Time’. Before he answers questions posed to him by the students. Where Christopher recounts jovial accounts about his own experience and way of working, with – wardrobe – directing dilemmas – and of course, his voice.
Here, please check out some of the quotes from this show:
- I pay all my bills and people trust me.
- Writers want to be actors. I take away their punctuation which gives me my tone.
- Gypsy Rose Lee gave me my High School Diploma.
- You have to react to life within acting. Happy accidents do occur.
- I did not care what role I got in 'The Deer Hunter'. I just wanted to be in the movie.
- I was an apprentice in the Actors Studio for about thirty five years, ha! Ten years.
From the very beginning of this interview you get the general impression that Christopher Walken is an old school actor with a lot of new age ideas. He is frank with his comments, plus is able to convey in a rather offbeat way why he is the way he is. Humbly, he always thankful those people whom have advised him in the past, elaborating in a very straight foreword manner why certain scenes in certain films turned out the way they did.
However, what surprises me most of all about Christopher, is his desire to work and his conservative morals. For example, once, when he won best supporting actor in the film The Deer Hunter, he brought the award home, firmly placed it down upon his fireplace, and then told his wife ‘this is a house’ – as if to root him back to reality after this honor was bestowed upon him.
In a strange way Christopher reminds me of my House building Uncle Tony from Cyprus. Tony is the type of a man that tries to do all the things that his parents wanted him to do. Go to school. Get a job. Have a wife. Sire a son. Build a house. And become one of those stoic yet open-minded gentlemen that you see in the movies of old, where both men and women knew their place, and did what society wanted them to do.
Though, unlike my Uncles, in Christopher's case, it's as if his career has given him some conflict at times. He enjoys his work yet he see's it as a job. He respects creativity yet he curbs his own. He is a open minded person yet has very precise ideas on what to do and how to do it. Ying and Yang, I know. But he does not come across in this way. Rather, Christopher appears very confident and very erstwhile in his demeanor.
Now as ever James is relaxed when asking his questions. And on occasion gibes Christopher about the answers he gives him. Inadvertently making this program more of a conversation than a one on one interview between professional and professional. Personally speaking, I like to think that after watching this episode of 'Inside the Actors Studio', that I have learnt a quite a bit about the man behind the haunting eyes, and can now appreciate him all the more for it. Right Kevin?
THE RATING: A