Seven Psychopaths: Sam Rockwell & Christopher Walken on Getting Crazy
Seven Psychopaths is a complete and utter hoot, largely due to the performances of Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken. The story of a pair of dog-nappers who bring back the pooches for reward money takes a terrific turn when Rockwell’s Billy and Walken’s Hans take the dog of an ultra-violent Los Angeles gangster. Woody Harrelson’s Charlie is just a little attached to his Shih Tzu Bonny and unleashes hell on those who took his companion.
The film is the latest from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) and we caught up with Rockwell and Walken as the duo talked about finding their inner psychopath — as brilliantly seen in the Seven Psychopaths red band trailer. The pair, who have both made a living portraying memorable characters, also expound about what it means to them to get dialogue as delicious as they got in Seven Psychopaths. Heck, Walken has made a career out of it and Rockwell believes he’s a bit like Spider-Man. Read on for that to make sense!
Movie Fanatic: How was it working with your Seven Psychopaths canine co-star? Bonny’s a dream, no?
Christopher Walken: That dog was great. Everything they say about working with animals is not true when it comes to that dog [laughs].
Movie Fanatic: What most inspired you in crafting these guys? Were there movies?
Sam Rockwell: I actually watched Colin Farrell in In Bruges a couple of times. I thought the rhythms and the characters were similar. I’m like Spider-Man, stealing things from actors to put in my web arsenal [laughs]. They become like spider webs, ready at any moment. I did watch that documentary Grizzly Man; I thought watching that guy was helpful.
Christopher Walken: Grizzly Man — that guy was crazy.
Sam Rockwell: Oh yeah, when he talks to the park rangers [laughs], with bananas or something like that…
Christopher Walken: Disturbing.
Movie Fanatic: You both worked with Martin (McDonagh) for a play he wrote recently. Have you ever asked him how he gets these crazy, but brilliant, ideas?
Christopher Walken: I said to Martin once in rehearsal, “How did you ever come to write a play about a guy who goes around with a suitcase filled with cut-off hands?” And he said, “You know, I was just sitting there one day and thought to myself, ‘I wonder what it would be like for a guy who went all over the place with a suitcase filled with hands.’” It’s as simple as that.
Movie Fanatic: You both are known for playing memorable characters — do you only look for parts that are wildly unique?
Sam Rockwell: I, personally, hate to be “Mister Whatever.”
Christopher Walken: I know what you’re saying, but I always get told that by people who see my movies. You always look for good stuff. What I meant when I said that was that very few scripts have that kind of focus on what people are saying. Movies can be a lot of things but they’re usually not about dialogue — the kind of dialogue that tells you where you are and where you’re going. But you don’t get really smart, fun stuff to say all that often.
Sam Rockwell: Fun stuff to say? Yeah, but I think good material seeks him (Christopher) out because he’s so good at those monologues. Like Biloxi Blues, True Romance, Pulp Fiction with the watch shoved up the… [laughs]. Man, he’s great at that.
Christopher Walken: Yeah, but there aren’t a lot of screenwriters who do that.
Sam Rockwell: Oh, I know they don’t do that but when you have a specialty, and you’re good at that, so they find you. That’s no accident.
Christopher Walken: Yeah, I suppose that’s true but I’ve also made four studio movie musicals over the years and these days, they just don’t make those kinds of movies now. If you’re an actor and you can tap dance a little bit, you can be in that movie.
Movie Fanatic: What are your hopes for audiences when they see Seven Psychopaths?
Christopher Walken: Well, those who have seen it are all kind of in the business. I’ll be interested to see how regular audiences react. You know, I had to go to the dentist two mornings ago and when I walked in, the dentist says to me, “Looking forward to October 12.” I said, “What? What’s happening then?” [Laughs] He says to me, “You know, your movie is opening!” When he and his family go and see the movie, that’s when I can get an impression about what we did.
Sam Rockwell: We took our jobs very seriously on this film, but we also had a lot of fun. Of course we want the movie to be a smash hit, but who knows what’s going to happen? I have memories of films that nobody ever saw that I was very proud of and those are still great memories. It would be great if people saw this movie. It’s a cool movie.
Movie Fanatic: You guys have both worked with so many directors throughout your careers; what did you see from Martin’s as a playwright and as a film director that inspired you?
Christopher Walken: Just something about Martin’s taste I guess that he saw something in my personality that fit this movie. They say casting is some big percentage of movies and I think that’s true. If the casting is right, you don’t have to work as hard because whatever you are is what they’re looking for. Martin knows how to cast.