Christopher Walken has been acting in Hollywood for the last seven decades, and along the way, he picked up credits in more than 130 projects. The showbiz icon is remembered for his work in Annie Hall, Catch Me If You Can and Pulp Fiction — roles which fans consider to be some of his best to this day.
Christopher’s journey to fame and superstardom began at the young age of 3. According to the star, he started taking dancing and performing lessons as a child. “It was very typical for people, and I mean working-class people. to send their kids to dancing school. You’d learn ballet, tap, acrobatics, usually … you’d even learn to sing a song,” he told Interview magazine in April 2016.
In 1953, Christopher made his TV acting debut at age 10 in the drama series The Wonderful John Acton. He later appeared in The Motorola Television Hour in 1954, Deadline in 1960, Naked City in 1963 and Hawaii Five-O in 1970. After transitioning to film with roles in 1970’s Cleopatra, 1971’s The Anderson Tapes and 1976’s Next Stop, Greenwich Village, he received his first praise in 1977’s Annie Hall.
The following year, Christopher cemented his status in Hollywood with 1978’s The Deer Hunter, which earned him his first Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His portrayal of Nick in the war-drama led to a plethora of notable gigs throughout the ’80s, including The Dead Zone, A View to Kill, At Close Range, Witness in the War Zone and Biloxi Blues.
Christopher’s career flourished in the 1990s. In addition to receiving his first Emmy Award nomination for his work on Sarah, Plain and Tall in 1991, he starred in Batman Returns, Skylark, Pulp Fiction, The Prophecy, Nick of Time and Sleepy Hollow, among others.
Over the course of his career, Christopher established a reputation for playing villains and bad guys. “I don’t usually get to play fathers or grandfathers or uncles,” he explained to The Guardian in March 2013. As he’s gotten “older,” however, the beloved actor has enjoyed portraying “people closer to [himself],” like in 2020’s Wild Mountain Thyme. Christopher also played a patriarch in 2020’s The War With Grandpa, as well as The Family Fang in 2015.
Considering Christopher has become one of the most acclaimed actors in Hollywood, it’s no surprise the Catch Me If You Can alum has no plans to retire. “Acting is one of those things, you can keep doing it as long as they ask you to do it. They say you don’t retire from acting — they retire you. And I don’t want to be retired, because what would I do?” he told The Wrap in April 2015.
“You know, I went to the same dentist for 30 years, and the last time I went to see him he said he was retiring,” Christopher continued. “I said, ‘What are you going to do?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’ll play golf, I’ll travel …’ I’m not going to play golf. If I retired, I wouldn’t have anything to do, and I think it’s the same for most actors.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see some of Christopher’s best film roles throughout his career!
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