Despite Seven Psychopaths being just Martin McDonagh’s second film after In Bruges, star Christopher Walken remains suitably impressed. “He certainly knows a lot about movies and he knows how to make them. He made this on a rather limited budget. He had a limited amount of time. He was very prepared, very practical. He obviously had the movie in his mind’s eye. And that was apparent. I wasn’t always sure of where it [the movie] was or what I was doing, but I knew that he did, and that’s very important.”
This is doubtless Walken being modest; his portrayal of Hans, who flicks between dog-napping and caring for his cancer-stricken wife, is the film’s beating heart. A mixture of poignancy and humour (he gets laughs for his very unique pronunciation of the word hallucinogen), Walken makes no attempts to mythologise his approach to playing the role. “I read it out loud until it sounds right. I’m not very good at figuring things out, but I do kind of know when they work.”
Likewise, despite the film being set in the world of budding screenwriters, Walken confesses he’s no scribe. “Writing has always been a bit mysterious to me. I’ve tried it. I think you really have to love doing it, otherwise it’s too hard. It’s just laborious. But I think that if you’re good at it, it must be some sort of pleasure. I’ve spoken to Martin about how do you do what you do. And he says, ‘Oh well, I just go wherever I am, and I take my pad and pencil and I just write. I’ll just go outside somewhere.’ And I said, ‘You can write outside?!’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ It’s a gift.”
To read the full interview with Sam, check out movieScope 21 (November/December 2012). You may also like to read our interview with Christopher’s co-star Sam Rockwell, and the film’s director Martin McDonagh.
Seven Psychopaths is released in UK cinemas on December 5