“Why Christopher Walken Dances In His Movies… A Lot”
There’s a reason why Christopher Walken dances so much in his movies. The Academy Award-winning actor doesn’t only fit into a multitude of genres when it comes to his 60-odd-year filmography, he makes it a point to fit dancing into nearly every part he’s ever played.
Christopher Walken started his career as a feature film actor in Robert Frank’s Me and My Brother in 1969. Eight years later, he broke out into the mainstream opposite Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, then followed up this supporting role a year later with his Oscar-winning performance in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter. From there, Walken was a household name, starring in everything from The Dead Zone to Batman Returns to Pulp Fiction. But Walken’s career doesn’t have roots strictly in acting. His background is in theater. More specifically, his background is in dancing.
In an interview with EW, Walken opened up about his love of dancing, how he started off his career at the age of 7 as a performer in musical theater, and how he even studied tap dancing as a young boy. He starred alongside Liza Minelli off-Broadway, was a backup dancer for a cabaret singer, and was cast as the lead in West Side Story. It wasn’t until he started landing roles that didn’t require this particular ability that Walken’s career trajectory shifted. Still, that’s not to say he was willing to abandon dancing altogether.
On account of his love of dancing, Walken made it a point to incorporate dancing into all of his roles. Where films like Hairspray and Spike Jonze’s music video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” required Walken to show off his dancing skills, the same can’t be said for his performances in films like True Romance and Catch Me if You Can. Still, he worked with what he had. Though there are a few exceptions, Walken explained that he “would throw in a little step” anytime he was on screen. It became a kind of rug-cutting calling card, no matter how subtle his moves might be.
Nowadays, Walken is a little less inclined to do this, ever since “people started to bring it up.” Once that happened, he thought that he might be “overdoing” it, so he stopped. That said, performances on screen live forever, and whether fans are on the lookout for something on the subtler side (see: Click) or something a little more pronounced (see: Pennies from Heaven), there’s no shortage of Mr. Walken getting down. He’s made it fairly clear over more than half a decade in the entertainment industry that he has a fever, and that the only prescription is more dancing.
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