Pals Meryl Streep and John Turturro roast the actor known for his spooky characters

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 11, 2004 08:00 AM
Credit: Fernando Leon/Getty

Meryl Streep admitted that she was as surprised as anyone to see Christopher Walken sitting still for a tribute, but that’s just what the actor best known for playing villains and deranged characters did Wednesday night for the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York.

Despite the strangeness of the people he plays, Streep said Walken’s appeal is in “that dichotomy of light and dark that draws us to his work. To me, he’s been my sweetheart and my brother whom I’ve loved, so he’s not so weird.”

Streep, 55, who costarred with Walken when he delivered his Oscar-winning performance in 1978’s The Deer Hunter (and again, 25 years later, in a Central Park production of Chekov’s The Seagull), noted that “every young actor does his own imitation of Chris Walken. Liev Shreiber’s is the most appalling.”

It wasn’t clear whether the knock at Schreiber, who played the Streep character’s son in this year’s remake of The Manchurian Candidate, was a joke or not. Meanwhile, John Turturro said that after he saw Walken’s one-man show as Elvis based on National Enquirer clips that Walken had accumulated, “I became president and grand wizard of the Christopher Walken Fan Club.”

Kevin Spacey and Jay Mohr are also members, said Turturro, but “Liev Schreiber really didn’t make it.”

Walken, 61, admitted there’s still one role he’s waiting to play: a Fred MacMurray-like character, as was seen on the early ’60s TV sitcom My Three Sons.

As Walken imagined himself: “A dad with a house, a dog with a big tail, my wife wears a dress around the house, and I have these sons who come to me and ask, ‘Dad, what do I do?’ And I say, ‘Son, do the right thing.’ I haven’t played that part yet.”