Christopher Walken's Life and Career in Photos

The Oscar-winning actor turns 80 on March 31, 2023, and we're celebrating by looking back at some of his most iconic roles and moments throughout his decades-long career

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Christopher Walken's Life in Photos

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Born Ronald 'Ronnie' Walken on March 31, 1943, in Queens, New York, the future Oscar-winning actor got his start as a child star in the 1950s. In celebration of his 80th birthday, we're looking back at some of his most memorable roles and moments, from his award-winning turn as a Vietnam veteran in The Deer Hunter to a billionaire Bond villain in A View to Kill.

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Christopher Walken's First Acting Role

Christopher Walken
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Walken's small screen debut came in 1953, as young Kevin in the sitcom The Wonderful John Acton, which followed his character's Irish-American family living in Kentucky.

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Christopher Walken Learning Lines

Christopher Walken
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Here, Walken is captured memorizing lines in the mid-'60s. His first film role was in 1969's Me and My Brother; almost a decade passed before his big break arrived with his portrayal of Diane Keaton's tortured younger brother in 1977's Annie Hall.

"Even when I was young, it was very difficult for me to learn lines. Some actors pick up a script and seem to know the part. For me, it's tedious and endless. Laurence Olivier used to call it pounding lines. That's what it is. You're pounding them into your head," Walken told The New York Times.

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Christopher Walken on Acting

Christopher Walken
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"There's nothing I can be other than an actor," Walken, photographed here in 1973, told The New York Times.

"Somebody said to me once that I was foreign," he told the outlet, adding, "And I think, Yes, I come from the country of show business. There aren't many people like me."

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Christopher Walken Wins an Oscar

Christopher Walken
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Walken took home his first and only Academy Award for his turn as Nick, a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD and obsessed with Russian Roulette, in 1978's The Deer Hunter, directed by Michael Cimino.

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Christopher Walken and His 'Deer Hunter' Costars

Christopher Walken
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Here, he's seen with Deer Hunter costars Robert De Niro, Chuck Aspegren, John Savage and John Cazale.

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Christopher Walken's Lasting Love

Christopher Walken
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The actor has been married for more than 50 years to his wife Georgianne, an Emmy Award-winning casting director for hit HBO series including The Sopranos and Entourage. The pair met in the '60s and have worked together throughout their careers on films like Brainstorm. The couple does not have children.

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Christopher Walken's Relationship to Natalie Wood

Christopher Walken

The actor was on board the yacht with his Brainstorm costar and friend Natalie Wood and her husband Robert Wagner the night that she drowned in 1981. He's rarely spoken out about the tragic event, telling PEOPLE previously, "I don't know what happened. She slipped and fell in the water. I was in bed then. It was a terrible thing."

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Christopher Walken Becomes a Bond Villain

Christopher Walken
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One of Walken's best-known roles is as Bond villain Max Zorin in 1985's A View to Kill. Here, he's seen in character alongside costar Grace Jones.

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Christopher Walken Filming with Robert Redford

Christopher Walken
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Dressed up as a farmer, Walken is seen on the set of 1988's The Milagro Beanfield War alongside director Robert Redford.

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Christopher Walken Plays a Farmer

Christopher Walken

Starring opposite Glenn Close, Walken portrayed a stubborn widower in search of a wife to help run his farm in 1991's made- for-TV movie, Sarah, Plain and Tall.

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Christopher Walken Does the Late Night Talk Show Circuit

Christopher Walken
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The actor has more than 100 film and TV roles under his belt, according to IMDb. Here, he chats with former Tonight Show host Jay Leno in 1997.

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Christopher Walken and Costar Leonardo DiCaprio

Christopher Walken
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Walken earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as Frank Abagnale Sr., the father of Leonardo DiCaprio's con man character in 2002's Catch Me If You Can.

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Christopher Walken Wins a SAG Award

Christopher Walken
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While he didn't take home the Oscar, Walken did earn a Screen Actors Guild award for best supporting actor for his role in Catch Me If You Can.

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Lincoln Center Honors Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken
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The actor was surrounded by friends and former costars — including John Turturro, Meryl Streep and Julian Schnabel — when he was honored with a career retrospective at Lincoln Center in 2004.

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Christopher Walken Cements His Status

Christopher Walken
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Pals Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Pollak showed support for Walken at a Hollywood hand and footprints ceremony honoring him at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Oct. 8, 2004.

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Christopher Walken Gets a 'Deer Hunter' Reunion

Christopher Walken
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Walken reunited with his Deer Hunter costars Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep at the 2017 Chaplin Award Gala in New York City.

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Christopher Walken Returns to the Oscars

Christopher Walken
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Walken made an appearance at the 2018 Oscars to present Alexandre Desplat with the award for Original Score for The Shape of Water.

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