Christopher Walken will celebrate his 77th birthday on March 31, 2020. The actor, who was born in Astoria, Queens, has been acting for roughly 60 years, having started out as a child performer on various television shows. He would attend one year of college at Hofstra University but then would drop out when he was cast in his first off-Broadway show. Considering Walken’s serious career as an actor, it is probably surprising to learn that this first show was a frothy musical comedy which also launched the career of another young performer named Liza Minnelli.
Walken would then go on to a quite prolific stage career appearing on and off-Broadway in all sorts of productions in everything from Shakespeare to Chekov. Eventually he would begin working in film and began to reappear on television. A scene stealing role in 1977’s Best Picture Oscar winner “Annie Hall” would then lead him to a central supporting role in the following year’s Best Picture winner, “The Deer Hunter.” The film would also win Walken a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as a soldier so scarred by his experience on the battlefields of Vietnam that he chooses to stay in the country and participate in suicidal games of Russian Roulette.
Walken would earn a second Oscar nomination plus a SAG and BAFTA Award as the father of Leonardo DiCaprio for 2002’s “Catch Me if You Can,” and an Emmy nomination for his performance in the TV movie “Sarah Plain and Tall.”
In honor of his birthday, tour our photo gallery of Walken’s 15 greatest film performances, ranked worst to best. In addition to the movies mentioned above, our list also includes “The Dead Zone,” “Biloxi Blues,” “Batman Returns” and more.