Christopher Walken is a U.S. stage and screen actor. He has appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows, including Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, Sleepy Hollow, Brainstorm, The Dead Zone, A View to a Kill, At Close Range, King of New York, Batman Returns, True Romance, Catch Me If You Can, Wayne’s World 2, Pulp Fiction, Envy, Wedding Crashers, Click and Hairspray as well as music videos by recording artists such as Madonna, Journey and Fatboy Slim.
Walken’s films have grossed more than $1.8 billion in the United States. He has also played the main role in the Shakespeare plays Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Coriolanus. He has several times guest-hosted Saturday Night Live, his most notable role being Bruce Dickinson in the “More Cowbell” sketch.
Walken debuted as a film director and script writer with the short (five-minute) film “Popcorn Shrimp” in 2001. He also wrote and acted the main role in a play about Elvis Presley titled Him in 1995.
Walken was born Ronald Walken (named after actor Ronald Colman) into a Methodist family in Astoria, Queens, New York. His mother, Rosalie (born 1906), was a Scottish immigrant from Glasgow, and his father, Paul Walken (1904-2001), emigrated from Germany in 1928 with his brothers, Wilhelm and Alois. His father was a baker and his mother worked as a window dresser.
Influenced by their mother’s own dreams of stardom, he and his brothers Kenneth and Glenn were child actors on television in the 1950s. Walken studied at Hofstra University on Long Island, but did not graduate. Walken initially trained as a dancer in music theatre at the Washington Dance Studio before moving on to dramatic roles in theatre and then film.