Christopher Walken and a Note on Inflection

October 11, 2011

There’s no one quite like Christopher Walken. With his unusual speaking manner and fresh take on body language, his command over his characters keeps audiences captured whether they’re disturbed, frightened or laughing.

How does he do it? He has often spoken about habitually taking liberties with the punctuation on scripts he receives:

“I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put [in] a period but it’s not necessarily where somebody else would. I think everybody should talk the way they want. You go to school and you all sit there and all learn to do the same thing. I guess it’s necessary, but it’s too bad also in a way. Kids, you know, get kind of restrained in a lot of ways. I probably wouldn’t get a job as an English teacher.”

“I have this theory about words. There’s a thousand ways to say ‘Pass the salt.’ It could mean, you know, ‘Can I have some salt?’ or it could mean, ‘I love you.’ It could mean, ‘I’m very annoyed with you.’ Really, the list could go on and on. Words are little bombs, and they have a lot of energy inside them.”

Whether you’re reading from a cue card at a commercial audition, or memorizing your lines from a script, consider Walken’s advice: “… Start to say your lines and if it sounds right, usually I stick with that. If it sounds right, it probably is right.”