I saw the trailer for Robin Williams’s new film Man of the Year Monday on TV. Even though I happened to have the audio muted, I knew this film was bad as soon as I saw that Christopher Walken had a supporting role in it.
This saddens me. Walken can be a fascinating actor when given even half a chance. He was magnificent in The Dead Zone. Alas, that was the only time Walken was directed well in a leading role in a film whose other elements were as well-conceived as Walken's character. The Dead Zone is the only good film taken from a Stephen King novel. It is also the only good film from David Cronenberg, a director whose films I must admit I am not otherwise enamored of.
Walken's talent has been wasted for most of his career. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Deer Hunter. Since then he alternated between supporting roles in undistinguished Hollywood films and some leading roles in mediocre or bad indies. He accepted an offer of representation from two hotshot agents after he was nominated again for a supporting Oscar for his role in Catch Me If You Can. They've used Walken's offbeat image and cult status to sell him in various cameo roles in which he's supposed to add some spark to bad big-budget films.
Walken's too old for the kind of leading roles mainstream studio films feature and he was never cast in them even in his youth. His agents may have priced him out of the reach of indie filmmakers. It's almost tragic that such an interesting actor has been relegated to being the Mrs. Dash of actors.
Walken's Wikipedia biography states, "Christopher Walken has stated in an interview that he never has—and never will—turn down a role in a film unless it conflicts with another film he is scheduled to play in. He has also stated that he never regrets the roles he plays, even the ones which got him typecast or nominated for Razzie awards."
I'm glad for him, but we have been deprived of what could have been some wonderful performances.