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Why Christopher Walken Never Prepares For An Acting Role

Christopher Walken has been in the acting biz for decades, and while he has taken on a range of wildly different roles — such as Cpl. Nikanor Chevotarevich in the war drama The Deer Hunter, Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray, the Hessian "Headless" Horseman in Sleepy Hollow, and the corrupt businessman Max Shreck in Batman Returns — it's safe to say that each of these characters, different as their motivations may be, all emanate Walken's very unique, quirky energy. The strange, talented combination that Walken brings to the table is why people love him so much, and to put it simply — Walken  is iconic, and there's no better way to explain him.

Christopher Walken is also just as unique behind the scenes as he is on camera, and it all comes down to the methods he picked up when he was younger, which he has carried throughout his acting career, and even into his present roles. From the way he speaks, to how he presents himself, his persona just works. 

The strangest thing? While it would seem like he would have to spend days, weeks, or months preparing for intricate roles like the ones he has made famous, he doesn't. In fact, Walken never prepares for his acting roles — and he gives an interesting reason why.

Christopher Walken thinks of himself as a performer, not an actor

Every actor has their own way of approaching a role, and sometimes, they choose to spend long hours perfecting every aspect of their character, but not Walken. As Walken sees things, when it comes down to it, two types of people approach a role — performers, or actors. What does he mean by that? Well, as he told The Guardian in 2012: "There are actors who can transform themselves, famously so, but I'm not one of them. There's a crucial difference between an actor and a performer. I'm essentially a performer. That's where I came from. That's what I know. That's what I do."

Needless to say, he's not a method actor. Going so far as to say that he's "never in character" when playing a role, Walken describes his "preparation" process for a role as standing in his own kitchen, reading the lines over and over in a quiet voice, until a "rhythm" comes to him as far as how to approach the scene. Rather than trying to change himself into another person, Walken says that he taps into his own experiences to relate to the character, because when it comes down to it, that's who he is and what he knows. He simply uses his own real emotions and situations to relate to every role he takes and has ever taken.

Strange as this sounds, it obviously works: Walken is one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and between his talent and charisma, he'll surely go down as a legend.