From the deep archives: Christopher Walken

March 11, 2010


On the occasion of his return to Broadway, I’m posting the interview I did with Christopher Walken for my book Caught in the Act: New York Actors Face to Face (a collaboration with photographer Susan Shacter). It’s one of my favorites in the book because of his humility and the way he talks about his relationship to the audience. At the time, Walken had confounded expectations by taking a cameo role in the 1986 Lincoln Center revival of John Guare’s House of Blue Leaves, for which he was onstage only for the last ten minutes of the play.

In House of Blue Leaves, you just sit there looking out at the audience – it’s one of the weirdest, most Brechtian performances I’ve ever seen.
I’m looking at them and they’re looking at me. That’s what I’m here for. That’s what I meant before when I said I’m starting to know what I’m for. A lot of critics object to that, but I do it on purpose. I believe that’s what God wants me to do.

God wants you to look at the audience?
I know, you say something like that and people think you sound like the Ayatollah Khomeini. But I look around as an intelligent person and see so many wonderful actors doing the other thing – why would I want to enter than arena? I believe as a performer you have to create your own arena so that in a sense there is no competition.

See the whole interview here.

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