THR's Oscar Icons Portfolio: Steven Spielberg, Eva Marie Saint, Michael Moore
This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
"Why don't we just count?" suggests Christopher Walken to pal Philip Seymour Hoffman during this photo shoot. The 70-year-old Oscar winner (for 1978's The Deer Hunter) is explaining to his A Late Quartet co-star that when famed Italian director Federico Fellini would film two actors of different tongues having an exchange, he would have them count to each other in their respective languages. Hoffman seems genuinely intrigued as Walken starts chanting random numbers (in English, at least).
For these Hollywood outliers, being somewhat unpredictable has served their careers well, as they are two of the industry's true actor's actors. (Walken received his second Oscar nomination in 2002 for his role in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, and Hoffman, who took home the statuette in 2006 for his lead performance in Bennett Miller's Capote, clocked his fourth nomination this year for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, about a charismatic cult leader in the 1950s.) Based primarily on the East Coast, each actor has transitioned from stage to screen and comedy to drama during the course of their careers.
"You get tired of one thing after awhile," says the 45-year-old Hoffman. "One thing, over and over." (However, The Master is Hoffman's fifth project with Anderson.) Walken admits that he hasn't seen all of the 100-plus films he's appeared in over his decades-long career.
When Hoffman asks him why he chose a particular role (he whispers the film's name under his breath), Walken, never one to mince words, responds: "For the money. I knew the script was terrible when I read it." But both agree that capturing the Oscar was the real turning point in their storied careers. Says Walken: "It meant getting scripts. It meant getting noticed."Click here to read THR's complete 2013 Oscar Icons list.