Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in one room together promises to be a whole lot of energy to try to manage during an interview.
Of course, neither of these men is easily summed up by their onscreen personas, and Rockwell in particular is a guy who I think comes across very different in a face-to-face situation than he does onscreen. He is one of our great oddballs on film, and it is one of cinema’s unbreakable rules that any film where Rockwell dances is automatically better because he dances.
Walken is also a remarkable dancer, of course, as any fan of “Pennies From Heaven” or the Fatboy Slim “Weapon Of Choice” video can attest, but he’s also a tremendous actor who has managed to become a larger-than-life figure. Some films trade openly on that idea and cast him to play “Christopher Walken,” and some films cast him for his considerable chops and his ability to create memorable characters. “Seven Psychopaths” is a little bit of both. While there is dialogue that absolutely sounds like it was crafted to trip off his tongue with his trademark pauses to punctuate things, he’s also enormously touching in the way he gives life to what could have been a cartoon in lesser hands.
“Seven Psychopaths” is a master class in comic performance, and I look forward to seeing the film several more times to watch the way the entire cast digs into this feast that Martin McDonagh has laid out for them. There’s a long sequence featuring Tom Waits that is one of the most unhinged sustained comic set-pieces I’ve seen in quite a while, and Waits positively savors every word of it. Rockwell also has a show-stopping moment where he describes the shoot-out he believes should end a screenplay, and he’s on fire in the role.
Ultimately, I think our conversation suffered a little because it was the end of a very long day of press for them, but they were still both sharp and focused and visibly proud of the film they made. I had a great time chatting with them, and if there is any justice in this world, “Seven Psychopaths” is going to be a huge hit and further underline just how great these two are, and what a treat it is to watch them work.
“Seven Psychopaths” opens Oct. 12.