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Here’s how Christopher Walken built his $50 million fortune

Born Ronald Walken in Queens, New York on March 31, 1943, he and his brothers were encouraged to act at an early age by his mother, making him a child actor at age 10. The thing that really made Walken love theater and acting was a photo of Elvis Presley, so much so that he styles his hair like Elvis to this day. He was even trained in the circus as a lion tamer, so he knows danger and risk taking. True to his passion for acting, Walden dropped out of college after landing a major role in an off-Broadway show called Best food before, alongside Liza Minelli. Before committing to plays and films, he learned to dance at the Washington Dance Studio. $50 million and over 100 movies later, Walden proves why he’s one of the best stars to ever set foot Hollywood.


What it takes to be awesome

By the time Walken had decided to be in theater and acting full time, he had already gained quite a bit of experience sketching on The Colgate Comedy Hour as well as the 1953 TV show Marvel John Acton in which he played Kevin Acton. In the mid-1950s, he took over the role of Michael Bauer in The guiding light until 1956. Then in 1966 Walken was cast as King Philip of France in Broadway’s lion in winter and even starred as Romeo in the classic romantic play, Romeo and Juliet, in Canada. His theatrical performances would pave the way for him in the film industry, as he would later guest star on the CBS police procedural drama, Five-O’s from Hawaiias Navy SP Walt Kramer in 1969. A year later, in 1970, he won the Drama Desk Award for Most Outstanding Performance after his role in another off-Broadway production called Lemon sky.


With a resume so decorated with theatrical performances, finding work in the film industry would be an expected eventuality. After all, some might say that performing on stage on Broadway takes a lot more skill, courage, and expertise, because there are no reshoots. Whereas in cinema, you have the privilege of multiple attempts to get it right without the audience witnessing your gaffes. So, by the 1970s, Walken was trained and ready for his breakout opportunity. And that’s exactly what he got when he made his film debut with a small role in The Anderson Tapes, in which he appears opposite Sean Connery. In 1972, a year after the release of his first film, he landed his first starring role as a sociopathic American soldier named Private James H. Reese in the science fiction film, The cage of happinessalso called Spirit Thieves.


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Become an award-winning actor

The Walken star continued to rise in the mid-70s with his role in Next stop, Greenwich Village (1976) where he played the role of poet and ladies’ man, Robert Fulmer, alongside Antonio Fargas and Jeff Goldblum. The film was well received by viewers and grossed just over $1 million in the United States and Canada. By this time he had already changed his name from Ronald Walken to Christopher Walken on the advice of Belgian actress Monique van Vooren. Shortly after his 1976 film, he starred in the 1977 romantic comedy-drama, Annie Hall, directed by Woody Allen and starring Diane Keaton, which made $38.3 million. Perhaps his most dynamic role of the decade was in Michael Cimino’s war drama, deer hunter, released in 1978 – a role for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film enjoyed a favorable outcome, grossing $49 million and featuring acting talents such as Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep.


Walken continued to focus on acting for the big screen in the 1980s. In 1981, he took on the lead role in John Irvin’s action-adventure film adaptation, war dogs, with co-star Tom Bérenger. His former dance training was not in vain either, since he was able to put it to good use in the romantic musical comedy, pennies from heaven, alongside Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. However, the film was a box office bomb, grossing $9 million against a budget of $22 million. Ouch!

Walken would then hold the lead role in one of the most iconic films of his career in 1983, The dead zone, an adaptation of a Stephen King thriller. He shared the screen with Brooke Adams and Tom Skerritt, whose legendary acting earned the film $20.8 million worldwide. Walken then hit a box office goldmine when he played villain Max Zorin opposite James Bond actor Roger Moore in A view to kill (1985). It was Roger Moore’s last appearance of his tenure in the James Bond film series, and the film grossed $152.4 million, making it Walken’s highest-grossing film at the time. He concluded the 80s with the police drama, Point Blank (1986), with Sean Penn, Chris Penn and Mary Stuart Masterson.


Making Iconic Movies A Walken The Park

After more than two decades as a professional actor, Walken has distinguished himself as one of Hollywood’s elite actors. Known for his roles as passionate characters, good and bad, he embraced the role of drug lord Frank White in the 1990 neo-noir crime thriller, king of new york, with David Carusso, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes. Some of his most adored movie moments during this time were those of Max Shreck in Return of Batman (1992) which grossed $266.89 million; Wayne’s World 2 (1993) which grossed $72 million; a supporting role in pulp Fiction (1994), grossing $213.9 million; The prophecy (1995) earning $16.1 million; Just in time (1995) with Johnny Depp, earning $8 million; italian historical drama, Celluloid (1996) which grossed $239.6 billion worldwide and a host of other hit movies. Walden has also dabbled in black comedy and animation, such as Mouse hunter (1997) which grossed $122.4 million, and Antz (1998), grossing $171.8 million.

The diversity of Walken’s acting abilities really began to culminate in the 2000s and beyond in films such as Joe Dirt (2001), a comedy adventure starring David Spade and Brittany Daniel that peaked at $31 million, and America lovers (2001) starring John Cusack, Julia Roberts and Billy Crystal, which grossed $138.3 million. Catch Me If You Can (2002), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is also a classic that grossed an incredible $352 million. His other memorable films include The summary (2003), Gigli (2003), Kangaroo Jack (2003), Denzel Washington man on fire (2004), the shamelessly hilarious wedding crashes (2005) with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn (2005); Click on (2006) alongside Adam Sandler; balls of fury (2007), and a black comedy film titled Get up guys (2012) alongside Al Pacino.


There’s no denying that Chris Walken chased, grabbed, and completely engulfed himself in his acting career. His film portfolio is truly impressive, with over 100 films in which he has played leading or supporting roles, earning him the net worth of $50 million he has to his name. Besides its seemingly endless movie list, the Five dollars a day The actor is also known as “one of the cameo kings”, as he made appearances in Madonna’s music video for Bad girlskidrow Broken-down video, and Fatboy Slim Weapon of choice MTV video.

READ NEXT: Die Rich: How Bruce Willis Built His $250 Million Fortune

Sources: rogerebert.com, tvtropes.org, The Soap Opera Wiki, denofgeek.com

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