LAist Interview: Patrick O'Sullivan Waxes About Walken
Bay Area transplant Patrick O’Sullivan (above photo, right) is creator and director of All About Walken: The Impersonators of Christopher Walken, a comedic homage to the actor-dancer who plays creepy-spooky better than anyone else we know. LAist recently queried O’Sullivan to find out exactly why Walken is worth such a pop culture celebration.
LAist: According to a news clip posted on your site, the idea for your show sprouted when you and your friends started imitating a guy in college who did a Walken impersonation. Does he know you’ve turned his impression into an hour-length production?
Patrick O: The guy we started imitating in college knows about the show. I offered him a part in it, but he passed. His name is Dan Carlos. He lives in San Diego and he's the guy you see in those Pechanga Casino commercials.
LAist: Why the obsession with Christopher Walken and not, say, Al Pacino?
Patrick O: Al Pacino is great but he hasn't spanned the boundaries of pop culture like Walken has. Walken is underground and mainstream at the same time. He's in comedies, dramas, action flicks, kids movies, music videos, hosting SNL, etc. Baby boomers know him from The Deer Hunter. Twenty and thirtysomethings know him from the Fatboy Slim music video (“Weapon of Choice.” Children know him from the SNL "More Cowbell" sketch. The niche he has found is really quite remarkable. I mean, has any other 64-year old man ever launched to such adoring popularity? You can't touch the originality of Walken's voice, mannerisms and thoughts.
As someone who has studied acting, what amazes me about Walken is that he is not just being unique to be unique. He is doing it while making incredible choices as an actor. I feel like you can turn on the scene between him and Dennis Hopper in True Romance and teach any acting class in the world. The other thing that gets Walken into people's hearts and funny bones is that I think he gives the impression that he is getting as much of a kick out of himself as everyone else is.
LAist: Is the material scripted from real life events and/or performances from Christopher Walken's life? Or are they original sketches?
Patrick O: The material in the show is all over the place. Movie tributes, improv, sketches, music, dance and various Walken fish-out-of-water scenarios. You get a chance to see quite a few other celebrity impersonations, too.
LAist: Does the cast change from week to week?
Patrick O: There have been different cast members since the beginning and a few guest stars, but the core group still remains intact. They're great and they all have their "own" Walken impersonations.
LAist: So give a shout out to your (diverse) cast.
Patrick O: The current cast of All About Walken kicks ass. They are men, women, young, old, black, white and Asian. I love it. There's Michael Bayouth, who is the real deal. He's got a lot of the Walken nuances down. There's Amy Kelly, a dynamo who I think is just beginning to realize how enormously talented she is. There's Lily Holleman, who has the most out-of-this-world Walken I have ever seen. She's really put her stamp on it. There's Kenzo Lee. His progress has been amazing and he now has some of the best moments in the show. I'm in it, too. I guess I give the tall, blonde, Irishman's take on Walken. Those are the original players and we've recently added the talents of Dionysio Basco, Will Shivers, Paul Mabon and Dave Hoke. Erin Cummings and Rochelle Vallese play the sexy, non-Walken parts.
LAist: Would we recognize any of your TV/film work? Anything in the hopper, right now?
Patrick O: Not quite yet. I just shot a little part in a new feature film called Broken Windows (it stars Jason Winston George and Devon Gummersall) that comes out in 2008. I am really excited about a documentary that I am producing right now on legendary comic and free speech pioneer Lenny Bruce. It is going extremely well and has allowed me to get to know some of my favorite artists and comedians. The subject matter and the learning experience are really blowing my mind.
LAist: Where do you (and/or your fellow Walkens) like to chill around town for dinner/drinks/music?
Patrick O: You can find the Walkens every Monday night after the show at the newly remodeled Kung Pao Kitty on Hollywood and Wilcox chowing on Chinese food, having a few drinks and still talking in Walkenese.
LAist: Where would Walken go?
Patrick O: Well, I know he stays at the Chateau Marmont when he's in LA, but if he really wanted to have a good time he would go see All About Walken, stop the show in the middle, get up on stage and show us how the maestro does it.
LAist: And finally, you're not stalkin' Walken, are you? (Sorry, couldn't resist).
Patrick O: Stalkin' Walken? No, I'm just taking the ideas from my head and putting them into practice. There's no better feeling than that.
All About Walken: The Impersonators of Christopher Walken
Paul G. Gleason Theater
6520 Hollywood Blvd. (cross street Wilcox)
Monday Nights @ 8pm, June 4th to July 9th
Call 310.663.4050 for reservations