how to "Walkenize"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 11 14:34:45 UTC 2012

from a NYT Magazine interview with Christopher Walken in today's paper:

Christopher Walken Isn’t as Weird as You Think
Interview by JESSICA GROSS

Q:  How often do you decline work that’s offered to you?
A:  Not much. If I read a script and I think I’d be terrible in it, then of course I don’t do that. And roles that are just way over the top in terms of strangeness.
Q:  Too strange even for you?
A:  Yeah. Sometimes I’ll take a part, and they’ll hire me and then they’ll rewrite it. They Walkenize it — they make it more off the wall, more eccentric.

Actually, this wasn't a coinage, and in a previous web hit, the transitive verb was provided by the interviewer:

Fall 2011 / Film & TV
Christopher Walken Talks Tarantino, ET, and How To ‘Walkenize’

You often appear in memorable cameos rather than the heavy leading roles, and you almost “Walkenize” the film with your presence.  Is this an intentional trademark for you or does it just happen this way?

I don’t know. I’ve never really thought of myself as an actor. I started in show business when I was a little kid. You sing a little. You dance a little. You sing in line. I always thought of myself as more of a performer or an entertainer. When I became an actor, it was sort of by accident. I was in the chorus of a Broadway musical, and they were looking for an actor in a play. Somebody said, “Why don’t you go down?” I got the job, and suddenly, I was an actor. I’d been an actor, a singer, and a chorus boy. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I got fired. I took some classes. So when you talk about “Walkenize,” it may just be that I don’t know how to do anything else.

I don't know if "Balkanize(d)" is a factor here; the two (Balkanize, Walkenize) don't actually rhyme for me, but they obviously come pretty close.


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