Wednesday, June 19, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. - A few years ago, that national treasure known as Christopher Walken saw something happening. To himself. And he was not pleased.
Christopher Walken, center, seen in the film comedy “Seven Psychopaths,” said he’s stepped back from his renowned “Saturday Night Live” television appearances.
Chuck Zlotnick/CBS Films via McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Seems every standup comic had a killer Christopher Walken impression.
His "Saturday Night Live" appearances had become the stuff of legend -- and T-shirts. ("Gotta have more cowbell!")
His image, his halting, mannered way of delivering a line, was overwhelming the actor behind it. His every screen appearance was accompanied by giggles of delicious anticipation.
Walken was fast becoming a punch line. He might be a beloved icon of big- and small-screen cool, but "icon" in his case was becoming "baggage." He's an Oscar winner, an actor's actor.
"Christopher Walken is to his co-stars what he is to me -- a god of acting, of the American cinema," says the Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh.
So Walken, now 69, had to "step back ... from all that."
No, he can't talk without halting, without seeming to consider his words, even when they're scripted and he committed them to memory months before.
But he can control how often you hear it.
"With television, an actor has to be careful," Walken says. "So many people will see you doing something, that you become identified with that image, that version of yourself. I suppose ... if you do one performance on 'Saturday Night Live,' more people will see it than see you in 10 different movies. Particularly if you're doing the sort of small movies that I do."
And if you poke fun of your image on "SNL" and elsewhere, there's a danger an actor could become a self-parody.
"It's like comics. They do TV, and they can't use those jokes again," Walken says.
"So I had to stop doing it. Sometimes, it's better to be a little ... mysterious."
Walken is anything but a mystery this fall. He has three films due out. In "Late Quartet," he plays the ailing leader of a popular string quartet, whose retirement sets off a tug of war over who will replace him.
In "Stand-Up Guys," he teams up with fellow screen legend Al Pacino.
And in "Seven Psychopaths," he lets writer-director McDonagh turn that recent image on its head, using Walken's natural charm and funny way with a line in a movie that is like every gonzo Walken movie of yore.
Fastest man stops to help with a parody
NEW YORK - "Saturday Night Live" parodied the vice-presidential debate with a little help from the world's fastest man.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt dropped by the NBC sketch show's mock debate after Taran Killam, playing Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, claimed he won the 100-meter race at the London Olympics. Ryan has been criticized for exaggerating his marathon time.
"SNL" had fun with the vice-presidential candidates following Thursday's contentious debate.
While President Obama and Romney's first debate didn't offer as much obvious satire, the show happily skewered Vice President Joe Biden and Ryan.
Jason Sudeikis, as Biden, called himself "Big Daddy Joe" and insisted he was "monkey strong" unlike his younger foe, whom he referred to as "shark eyes." Killam played Ryan with an Eddie Munster-like widow's peak.
Competitive gaming crowns a world champion
LOS ANGELES - It had all the makings of an Olympic event: an indoor arena, play-by-play announcers, 7,000 enthusiastic fans, uniformed competitors from across the globe and cameras capturing every angle of the action.
The dizzying world championships of the online battle arena game "League of Legends" concluded Saturday night inside the University of Southern California's Galen Center, with underdog Taiwan's Taipei Assassins defeating South Korea's Azubu Frost to win the $1 million grand prize.
The contest served as the latest example of the increasing popularity of competitive gaming -- or e-sports, as it's called. While e-sports have been around for more than 15 years, the genre has yet to achieve mainstream success in North America, though it's practically a national pastime in South Korea.
-- From news service reports