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Christopher Walken shares advice: ‘Make sure you wear your seatbelt’

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Updated: March 11, 2013 3:47PM

It’s not like he’s eccentric or anything.

Yet, when you ask character actor Christopher Walken what he has learned about life before he turns 70 next year, he doesn’t hesitate to offer an eclectic answer.

“Here is my best life advice for the younger people out there,” says Walken. “Even in the limo, make sure you wear your seatbelt.

“Think about it,” he offers. “That’s my life advice.”

A few Excedrins later, you might still be thinking about it. Or you can think about Walken’s newest movie “Seven Psychopaths,” out Friday, where he plays zenlike Hans, an oddball member of the criminal underworld who kidnaps dogs. When a gangster (Woody Harrelson) finds out that his beloved Shih Tzu has been nabbed, he takes things up a few notches and also involves a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell).

Walken brings his own take to the gangster world in this film and in “Stand Up Guys,” the sold-out opener of the Chicago Film Festival on Thursday. Though he granted this rare interview last week, the notoriously private Walken likes to keep an air of mystery around him.

“I really don’t want the people in Siberia to know I like hamburgers,” he reasons.

1 Are you excited about coming to town with “Stand Up Guys” co-stars Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Julianna Margulies?

Is Al going to be there? I really hope to see him again. ... I had never worked with him before this film, but I’ve known him a long, long time, since I started going to the Actor’s Studio. He was very active there and I got to know him. It was really inspiring to work with him. … I also love Chicago. I’ve worked with the Goodman Theatre there and used to work with the Ivanhoe. My wife [casting director Georgianne Walken] is from Chicago, which makes it even better.

2 Are you a psychopath in “Seven Psychopaths?”

I’m not sure if I’m playing a psychopath. He’s just a man with a troubled past and he’s doing much better until they kill his wife. He reverts back to his problems.

3 Did that little dog in the movie respect that you could go psycho on her?

I’ve never had a dog. I do have some cats, but the dog in the movie was a good dog. At the end, everyone wanted to adopt her. I didn’t. But I saw her the other night at a premiere. I guess she’s going to be famous now. I just hope she stays sane and nice.

4 You’ve played so many strange characters? Do people expect you to be that strange in real life?

I think that’s true. The public perception has a lot to do with knowing me from the movies. It’s understandable. I’ve played a lot of strange people and I think it bleeds over. Of course, what is strange? I’ve also played nice, normal guys who are normal until things happen and they change. That’s true of everybody.

5 What made you want to act?

TV started in New York, and it was live and family-orientated. They used a lot of kids and my mother was really into it, so she brought my brothers and me to auditions. We lived in Astoria and it was just a 15-minute train ride into Manhattan. We went across the river to act and my mother encouraged it. … I never thought about why I did it professionally. I just did it. I was a dancer in musicals and accidentally I got a job as an actor in a play. I was asked to do movies. You could say one thing led to another and I still love it. Acting is the only thing I can do. It’s a very good life.

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