He's one of the most ubiquitous actors on the film scene, and one of the most daring. He's appeared as a psycho businessman in the film version of Howard Korder's Search And Destroy and, most memorably, as a psycho sergeant in Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. His screen credits also include Pulp Fiction, The Deer Hunter (for which he won an Oscar) and Annie Hall.
He's Christopher Walken, and thanks to the Public Theatre, he's been able to hone his stagecraft as well. In June 1991 he played Iago opposite Raul Julia's Othello, and in 1995 wrote and starred in Him, a satirical view of Elvis Presley. Other Walken plays at the Public include Kid Champion, The Seagull and Macbeth.
For his devotion to the Public, Walken will receive the 7th Annual Susan Stein Shiva Award, given by the Public Theatre to artists who start their careers in theatre and go on to subsequent acclaim in film and TV, yet stay committed to the stage. Previous winners have included the aforementioned Julia, Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman.
The trophy will be handed to Walken by actress Irene Worth, who played opposite the actor in the Public's 1989 Coriolanus. The special benefit, March 13, 7 PM, will take place at Broadway's Ambassador Theatre, West 49th St. (Home of NYSF's Noise/Funk), to be followed by dinner at the nearby Crowne Plaza. The benefit's proceeds will go to "develop and nurture the next generation of artists" at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival.
The cast of Bring In `Da Noise/Bring In `Da Funk will offer pieces from their show, and they'll also be joined by recording artists Roberta Flack, The Fugees and Busta Rhymes. According to production spokesperson Bill Coyle, other special guests will also appear in the evening, to be directed by George C. Wolfe. Tickets to the show are $100; the entire gala starts at $500. For more information call 212 539-8620.
--By David Lefkowitz