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Christopher Walken is a perennial villain onscreen — in Batman Returns, A View to a Kill, Sleepy Hollow, True Romance and The Rundown, among others — and come Thursday, he’ll wear a wig and lose a hand to play antagonist Captain Hook in NBC’s Peter Pan Live!
“I don’t know how [I got typecast to play so many villains] but I think it’s like anything else, in the movies in particular, if you establish yourself as something and you’re lucky enough to keep getting hired,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter during a press event in New York. But his long résumé of villains doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to try something different. “I would love to play, it would be interesting … [something] like, Father Knows Best. I’d love to play a part like that — nobody asks me!”
Starring opposite Allison Williams, Walken isn’t just limiting himself to “talking-singing” while evoking evil, the actor and Broadway vet told THR. “There’s something about him that’s sort of sweet. Peter Pan chopped his hand off and fed it to a crocodile, and now he’s got a crocodile following him, and he wants vengeance; his pirates just keep saying to him, ‘Look, you’ve got all this money, you’ve done everything, why don’t you just take it easy?’ And he says, ‘I can’t, I have to settle a score.’ So there’s something a little bit sad about him. It’s almost a little bit like, ‘Poor old Hook.’ “
Walken, who didn’t watch Sound of Music Live! last year, traces his acting roots back to the musical theater scene. While he has had roles in big-screen adaptations of Pennies From Heaven, Hairspray and Jersey Boys, the actor said that the live broadcast is unlike anything he’s ever done before.
“Doing it this way, getting ready and then having one moment, it’s really more like sports than theater. It’s like a football game or something — you get ready, and then you go play,” he said. “This is different — we’ve got the whole cast around. … Sometimes you don’t meet the other people in a movie. I was in five movies with Jeff Goldblum before I met him! I met him at a stoplight in Los Angeles!”
Although Thursday’s broadcast will feature a computer-generated Tinkerbell onscreen, Walken is excited to share scenes with a suitable crocodile onstage. “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen sketches and it looks good,” he assured. “I asked them, ‘Is the crocodile going be able to stand up? Because that’s essential.’ They said, ‘Yes.’ There’s something about the crocodile walking around like Frankenstein that I think is very funny.”
Peter Pan Live! — also starring Kelli O’Hara, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver — airs live Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. on NBC.
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