Ask Me Another
8:56 am
Thu May 29, 2014

John Turturro: Walken On Sunshine

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 9:33 am

Turturro is a star in his own right, but he and his wife, actress Katherine Borowitz play a game about fellow thespian Christopher Walken. We've got a fever, and the only prescription is more trivia!

Plus, hear house musician Jonathan Coulton playfully cover Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Please welcome back our very important puzzler, John Turturro.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Now, John, I see that you brought a lifeline with you to play this round.

JOHN TURTURRO: Yes. She's my better half.

EISENBERG: She's your better half? Would you like to introduce her to the listeners at home?

TURTURRO: It's Kathy Borowitz. She's my wife.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Oh, how lovely. Katherine, would you say you have a trivia expertise, if we had to nail down a (inaudible)...

KATHERINE BOROWITZ: No. No. Just totally desperate. No.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: She has lots of degrees. Give her some hard questions.

BOROWITZ: Pop culture is completely useless.

EISENBERG: But you have lots of degrees?

TURTURRO: Yes. She has many degrees.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah, what are they in?

BOROWITZ: Well, music and linguistics first, and then education with reading disabilities and then drama. That's where I met John.

TURTURRO: I didn't have a reading disability. I'm a little dyslexic. I mean, almost.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Well, lucky for you we are quizzing you two about someone that I believe you like very much - Christopher Walken.

TURTURRO: Yeah. Sure.

EISENBERG: Now you all work together.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You all work together in a film "Romance and Cigarettes." Is that how you got to know him or did you know him before?

TURTURRO: No, I worked in another movie, "Search and Destroy" with Chris. And I also directed him in "Illuminata," which Kathy was in, right? And then I directed him in "Romance and Cigarettes." And I think - is there any other film I was in with him? I think. No, that's it, yes.

BOROWITZ: And God's...

TURTURRO: Oh. And "God's Behaving..." Yes I did like four films -"God's Behaving Badly."

BOROWITZ: See, I helped.

TURTURRO: "God's Behaving Badly." Chris is one of the funniest people you could ever meet and he's actually a really sweet guy too.

EISENBERG: Well, we were delighted that is what you wanted us to write a quiz about.

TURTURRO: All right.

EISENBERG: So we're about to learn a lot more about the actor whose real name is Ronald Walken.

TURTURRO: Ronnie, yes. His real name is Ronnie. He was a backup dancer for Mamie van Doren. And she said to him one night after the show - he was one of her trio 'cause he was a dancer first. She said, you know, I don't see you as a Ronnie. I see you as a Chris. And Chris said OK. Yeah, sure.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: And he said to me - said - you know, I'm a little depressed about that because I'm much more of a Nick.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: So when I directed him in "Romance and Cigarettes," I was going to actually say introducing Nick Walken. You know what I mean.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: I'd still like to do that someday.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: He's the greatest.

EISENBERG: I like that he has other names for himself.

TURTURRO: Yeah. Well, it's true, right, don't you feel like sometimes...

EISENBERG: Are you kidding, with a name like Ophira, I'm like, please call me Debbie, Jane, Sally, I'll take anything.

TURTURRO: OK, Sally.

EISENBERG: Yeah, Sally's kind of sweet. OK, so if you get enough questions right, Stephen Shoenfelder (ph) in Seattle, Washington is going to win the hottest item that we have on the ASK ME ANOTHER prize package. It's an anagram T-shirt. So stakes are high, all right?

TURTURRO: All right. God.

EISENBERG: Get ready.

BOROWITZ: Go for John.

EISENBERG: It's hard to imagine, but Chris Walken was almost cast in the sci-fi classic, "Star Wars." Walken was reportedly George Lucas' second choice to play which of these iconic roles? Hans Solo, Darth Vader, or C3PO?

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: Darth Vader. But he could also be Hans Solo, he just would be a more eccentric version of it.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Hans Solo is the right answer. That's what George Lucas...

TURTURRO: OK. That's the wrong answer. I get it, really.

EISENBERG: It's the wrong answer and then you gave the right answer because you thought about it.

TURTURRO: Hans Solo. I like it if you'd say, my name is Hans Solo.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: And I'm going to blow you out here, man, Darth Vader. I would have liked "Star Wars" a lot better if Chris Walken was in it.

EISENBERG: I know.

TURTURRO: I never even saw Star Wars until 20 years later, but if Chris would've been in it - Hans Solo - yeah. I'm Hans. And I'm going solo.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Walken supposedly lived on bananas, water, and rice for a whole week to achieve a gaunt look for which one of his movies?

TURTURRO: "The Deer Hunter."

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Before becoming an actor, one of Walken's early jobs was as what? Was it a major league baseball player, a singing telegram performer, or a lion tamer?

TURTURRO: A singing telegram performer, right?

EISENBERG: Katherine do you agree? Thumbs-up? Wrong. Lion tamer.

TURTURRO: Lion tamer. Sure.

EISENBERG: Yes.

BOROWITZ: No way.

TURTURRO: I was going to say that. Sure - I was in a cage with a lion...

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: No wonder he's the way is. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: Now lion, trying to eat me. I said, whoa lion. I'm out of here.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: I could do Chris for hours.

EISENBERG: That was amazing.

TURTURRO: I spent a lot of time with him. This is better than the right answers. This is entertainment.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: Forget the right answers.

EISENBERG: No need.

TURTURRO: Sure. Next question. Yeah, go ahead.

EISENBERG: According to Walken, what is one thing he ignores when he reads a script?

TURTURRO: Punctuation.

EISENBERG: Yes. Exactly.

TURTURRO: Yeah. I cross it all out. And stage directions too. He cries, he chokes. I just feel it and do it. That said, no he takes out the punctuation.

EISENBERG: He's also a devoted cat owner and supposedly he once said, I think that if actors had blank it would change everything. Do you know what he was referring to? I have choices for you. Was it claws, tails, or litter boxes?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What do you think, Katherine?

BOROWITZ: Tails.

EISENBERG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

TURTURRO: There you go. Sure. A tail is good.

(LAUGHTER)

TURTURRO: Especially if you can wag it.

BOROWITZ: I love that he thinks that would change everything in acting. Just so much better.

TURTURRO: OK.

EISENBERG: Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

ART CHUNG, BYLINE: I think we're all winners here.

EISENBERG: Oh, fantastic.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: You had enough rights. Stephen is going to get an ASK ME ANOTHER T-shirt. And you guys were - I mean, incredible.

TURTURRO: Thank you. Thank you.

EISENBERG: A big hand for VIPs John Turturro and Katherine Borowitz.

(APPLAUSE)

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: (Singing) Put on my blue suede shoes and boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, middle of the pouring rain. Double (inaudible).Would you look down over me. Yeah, got a first class ticket, but I'm as blue as a boy can be. Christopher Walken in Memphis. Walking with his feet ten feet of the bead. Christopher Walken in Memphis. Do I really feel the way I feel? Christopher Walken in Memphis. Walking with his feet ten feet off a beach. Christopher Walken in Memphis. Do I really feel the way I feel?

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.