Eccentric. Intimidating. Hilarious. Scary. Emotional. All these words describe Christopher Walken’s work on the big screen. His fearless ability to adapt to different genres and mediums has transformed the veteran actor into a favorite among movie watchers of all ages.
He’s won an Oscar, danced in an award-winning music video and lent his talents to some of Saturday Night Live‘s funniest sketches throughout his fifty-plus years in show business. He’s also delivered a host of excellent performances playing everything from tortured soldiers to sleazy record producers.
Walken will celebrate his 67th birthday tomorrow. To help commemorate this special occasion, I thought it appropriate to take a look at a few of his best scenes. With apologies to The Deer Hunter and King of New York, which don’t allow embeddable clips, here are ten memorable moments from Walken’s illustrious filmography.
10. Nick of Time (1995)
Walken plays the ruthless kidnapper known only as Mr. Smith who gives Johnny Depp’s character an unsettling ultimatum: either kill the Governor of California, or his daughter dies. Walken oozes creepy villainy in this underrated thriller.
9. Homeboy (1988)
Walken again dons a black hat portraying a corrupt fight promoter who wants to use brain damaged boxer Mickey Rourke to help him commit a robbery. The scenes between the two are simply amazing.
8. Annie Hall (1977)
Walken’s signature weirdness made its debut in Woody Allen’s comedy classic. He plays Annie’s disturbed brother Duane, who seems a little too preoccupied with thoughts of suicide.
7. The Prophecy (1995)
Walken goes biblical as the menacing angel Gabriel and travels to Earth to find a human soul that will end a war in Heaven. No one puts the fun in torturing angels quite like Christopher Walken.
6. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Walken earned a second Oscar nomination playing the con man father of legendary forger Frank Abagnale, Jr. It’s one of his more understated roles, but he still manages to unleash an acting clinic. (He comes in at about the 3:00 mark.)