The View From Here

"I was born into show business": the extraordinary dance skills of Christopher Walken revealed

"I was born into show business": the extraordinary dance skills of Christopher Walken revealed
Michael Bonner

“The truth is, I don’t like dangerous things and am quite normal,” Christopher Walken told Uncut in September 2006. “I was born into show business and that brings with it being a little eccentric, the way you speak, the way you approach things. This innately gives me a sense of foreignness, which can easily translate into…s-t-r-a-n-g-e.”

Of course, when you think of Christopher Walken, it's likely you'll picture him as Nick Chevotarevich in The Deer Hunter, clutching a pistol to his temple in the Vietnamese jungles, or as Frank White, the ruthless kingpin he played in King Of New York, or perhaps you’ll remember him as Vincent Coccotti in True Romance, the sharply dressed consigliere who shoots cinema’s other great on-screen psychopath, Dennis Hopper, in the head. But as Walken attests, “I had come from musical comedy theatre”, and there is arguably more than just shooting people to the actor’s skillset.

Indeed, as far back as issue 44, we had begun to piece together an extraordinary secret history threaded through Walken’s work, stretching back as far as 1977’s Roseland. There, in this early role, he in fact played a former dancer. But perhaps it wasn’t until 1981 that his soft-shoe attributes became more explicit: in the Hollywood remake of Dennis Potter’s Pennies From Heaven, Walken mimed – but more importantly, danced – his way through a routine to “Let’s Misbehave” that, so we’re told, so impressed Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly they both offered their congratulations.

We discovered evidence of Walken’s dancing interludes through 16 movies, finding proof that the actor would burst into tap or essay a sneaky rumba in films as diverse as At Close Range, King Of New York, Wayne’s World II and even Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead – the latter an especially remarkable feat, considering he is wheelchair bound for much of the film’s duration. Of course, Walken effectively ‘came out’ as a hoofer in Spike Jonze’s sublime video for Fatboy Slim’s 2001 single, "Weapon Of Choice".

Anyway, the point of all this is that the Huffington Post have edited together a marvellous five minute compilation of Walken busting some impressive moves. You can watch their edit below. It's a thing of considerable beauty.

Follow me on Twitter @MichaelBonner.

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