Christopher Walken Remains Endearingly Ordinary After All These Years

By
Photography Kurt Marcus

Published March 2, 2020

On Second Thought offers iconic subjects the rare chance to revisit an interview from our archives, and reckon with the good and the bad of it. In this edition, we sit down with one of our most eccentric actors, Christopher Walken as he revisits—and revises—his 1993 feature for this magazine, which came out just before he appeared as a consigliere in Tony Scott’s True Romance, proving that he remains endearingly ordinary after all these years.

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“Thank goodness I still have hair. I’m old, but I still have a lot of hair.” 

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“I live in the country now, and the market I go to doesn’t sell tabloids, so I’ve lost touch with them. And I don’t have a computer. I don’t even have a cell phone. I’ve never sent a text or an email. I watch the news and sports and old movies on TV, but when it comes to the internet, I’m really out of touch.”

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“I’ve been getting more and more parts for uncles and grandfathers. The villain thing kind of happened by accident, anyway.”

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“I still do. It always looks pretty good and you don’t have to go changing all the time. I wear these stretch-waist pants and black T-shirts. I put on a jacket if I go to a restaurant.”

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“It’s been a long time since I lived in the city. Where I live now, I don’t see people much. New Yorkers are very good-natured people. I was always very comfortable there. I found that walking was the best way to get around. I came to know exactly how long it would take me to walk somewhere. If I went to the dentist, I knew it was going to take me 20 minutes. If I went to meet somebody about a script, I knew it was going to take me 45.” 

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“I don’t see a lot of people anymore. Once in a while, I go to a Christmas party or a birthday party. Nowadays, I try to eat right and get rest and stay healthy, so that if somebody offers me a job, I’m ready to go. I’m always kind of getting ready to go to work, even if I don’t have anything in particular to work on.”

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“Cats are very smart and affectionate. They’re all the things that they’re not reputed to be.”

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“Nothing has changed in that respect. I don’t have a lot of requirements in my contract. I travel alone. I don’t take my family. I don’t have an assistant. But one thing I always have, no matter where I’m staying, is a treadmill in my room facing the television set. That’s my only continuous requirement. And every morning, no matter what my call time is, I get up early enough to exercise. I like to start the day slowly and peacefully.”

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“I would like to keep doing it as long as I can. They wanted to throw a big party for [the English actor] John Gielgud on his 96th birthday, and he had to respond that he couldn’t attend because he was on location shooting a movie. I think that’s kind of great.”

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“Sure, I’m vain, but nowadays it has more to do with the fact that if you look good, you probably feel good. If I gain ten pounds now, I feel it. It’s harder to breathe, harder to sleep. I feel sluggish. Taking care of myself is much more of a priority than it used to be.”

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“Well, I’m not afraid. But I sure wish I didn’t have to.”

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This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Interview magazine. Subscribe here.