A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken, currently starring in Martin McDonagh’s A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE, recently sat down with Patrick Healy of The New York Times to talk about his role in the new play which is currently playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway:
“AFTER four decades of playing almost every sort of sociopath imaginable, Christopher Walken laid down the law a couple of years ago with his agent about the scripts she kept sending him.
‘Look, enough already,’ Mr. Walken, who is 66, recalled telling her, as he spoke recently in a half-dark room near a Manhattan rehearsal space. ‘I want to play a nice guy with a wife and a family and a dog and a house. And she said, ‘We’ll look for that for you.’
‘And then she sends me this new play to read, and I read it, and I call her up and say, ‘Wow, is this the guy with a house and a wife and a dog?’ And she said, ‘Read it again.’ And I did. And she was right.’
While the play’s title, ‘A Behanding in Spokane,’ was a tip-off that this was no ‘Brady Bunch’ redux, and while the story’s handcuffs and gun and explosives and grotesque surprises underscored that point, Mr. Walken concluded that it was fundamentally a story of ‘nice people.’ Creepy, maybe; confrontational, certainly; at their wits’ end, to say the least.
But after playing troubled men for so long, from the films ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘The Deer Hunter’ in the 1970s to later stage roles like Iago in ‘Othello,’ Mr. Walken has become a pro at finding a sunny side in the spookiest of souls.
‘What struck me most about the play is it’s a good-natured piece, if you look past the rough language and subject and all that stuff I usually have to deal with,’ said Mr. Walken, a New York theater veteran who is returning to Broadway for the first time in a decade with ‘Behanding,’ which began preview performances last week at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater. ‘Every character in this play, I like them. They’re outcasts. Struggling, but decent.’
‘They’re not crazy, they’re just —— ‘ he said with a pause, ‘strange.’
The strange character for Mr. Walken this time around is Carmichael, a shy, remote man — much like the actor himself — who has been searching among corpse dealers for his left hand ever since it was hacked off 47 years earlier. The play unfolds in virtually real time over 90 minutes in a seedy hotel room, where Carmichael squares off against two con artists (played by Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan) and a nosy hotel clerk (Sam Rockwell).
The play reflects the dark humor of its author, Martin McDonagh (‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore,’ ‘The Pillowman’), whose sensibilities seem strikingly in sync with Mr. Walken’s.
‘I do like to write sinister but quite funny guys, who can combine a sense of menace and danger but also real loss,’ Mr. McDonagh said by phone. ‘Carmichael is all of that, but he’s also someone who is very, very honorable in his own crazy way, with a moral code that gets crossed by people. Chris is so ideal in this role, because he’s so funny but can turn to that dark side on a dime, and because he can see the niceness in these odd people.’ Click here to read the entire story: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/theater/21walken.html
Click here to listen to Mr. Walken talk about his role and watch and audio slide show of A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE:
A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE starring Academy Award-winner Christopher Walken and stage and screen stars Sam Rockwell, Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan is currently in previews and will open Thursday, March 4 and will play a strict 16-week engagement. Directed by directed by John Crowley, the production is playing on Broadway at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street).
The title is just the starting point; take a man searching for his missing hand (Walken), two con artists out to make a few hundred bucks (Mackie and Kazan), and an overly curious hotel clerk (Rockwell), and the rest is up for grabs. A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE is Martin McDonagh’s hilariously black comedy, a world premiere which marks McDonagh’s first American-set play and his first play to originate on Broadway.
The design team is comprised of Scott Pask (Scenic and Costume), who won a Tony Award for his set design for The Pillowman, and Brian MacDevitt (Lighting), who won a Tony Award for his lighting design for The Pillowman.
A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE is produced by Robert Fox, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Debra Black, Stephanie P. McClelland, Ostar, Roger Berlind, Scott Rudin and The Shubert Organization.
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