(March 31, 1943– ): Academy Award–winning American actor who portrayed psychotic industrialist Max Zorin in A View to a Kill. Walken, who has made a career out of playing quirky, often insane characters (he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his Russian-roulette-playing Vietnam veteran in The Deer Hunter), was perfectly cast as Zorin, the product of an abortive Nazi steroid experiment to enhance intelligence in newborns. Walken had his hair bleached to portray the blond East German KGB operative turned French industrialist, who was created very much in the image of Auric Goldfinger—only with an interest in monopolizing the microchip market rather than gold.
Born in Astoria, Queens, Walken made his big-screen feature debut in director Michel Auder’s comedy Cleopatra (1970). Film audiences discovered him as Diane Keaton’s troubled brother Duane in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). That led directly to Walken’s stunning performance in The Deer Hunter (1978), which won the Best Picture Oscar that year and catapulted all its stars into the big leagues. His additional film credits include Heaven’s Gate (1980); Brainstorm (1983); The Dead Zone (1983); The Milagro Beanfield War (1988); Batman Returns (1992); True Romance (1993), featuring his classic verbal mano a mano with Dennis Hopper; Catch Me If You Can (2002), which earned him another Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor; Wedding Crashers (2005); Hairspray (2007); and Jersey Boys (2014).