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From Oscar to Oval Office?

Times Staff Writer

He was a Russian roulette-playing Vietnam veteran in “The Deer Hunter.”

He played an unsavory smuggler in “Pulp Fiction.”

Now somebody, somewhere, apparently thinks the world is ready for Christopher Walken in a new role: Leader of the Free World.

A claim that Walken had launched a campaign for the White House caused a stir as it made the Internet rounds in recent days, fueled by a sophisticated website (www.walken2008.com) that lists a campaign platform, testimonials and bits of purported Walken wisdom intended to carry him far with voters in red and blue states.

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Only, it’s all a joke.

Walken’s representatives say they aren’t sure who masterminded the website but speculate that it might have been prompted by Walken’s latest film, “Wedding Crashers,” a hit comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. In it, Walken plays the U.S. secretary of the Treasury.

“The person who put this together was just trying it as a hoax, I presume,” said Mara Buxbaum, Walken’s publicist. “My take on it is it sounds like the person who put this on the Web took his role ... in ‘Wedding Crashers’ too seriously and now wants him to run for the presidency.”

A spokesman for New Line Cinema, which released the film, said the website is not part of any publicity campaign by its marketing department. The movie already has grossed $165 million and doesn’t appear to need extra help at the box office, he added.

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Although the campaign is fake, there’s a certain Ross Perot quality to the website that lends it an air of authenticity.

The site suggests that the 62-year-old actor, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor in “The Deer Hunter,” was motivated by the country’s state of affairs.

“Our country is in a terrible downward spiral,” Walken is quoted as saying on the website. “We’re outsourcing jobs, bankrupting Social Security, and losing lives at war. We need to focus on what’s important -- paying attention to our children, our citizens, our future.”

“Get America Back on Track!” one “caring citizen” responded on the website. “Stepping to the forefront of politics is a new type of leader, motivated by his love of country, not special interest groups.”

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Walken’s agent, Toni Howard of International Creative Management, scoffed at the notion of Walken running for office.

“I don’t know where they got it,” Howard said. “That’s like saying Tim Robbins is running on the Republican ticket. [Walken] is the least political guy I know.”

Howard also said she was assured by Walken’s fan club that it had no role in the hoax.

Warren Adelman, chief operating officer of the domain name registrar GoDaddy.com in Scottsdale, Ariz., confirmed that the Walken presidential domain name was registered through his company -- likely for a fee of $8.95 or less. But Adelman could not identify who was behind the site because it is registered to Christopher Walken for President and only lists a Los Angeles post office box -- with a Florida ZIP Code -- as an address.

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Adelman said they will remove a site if it is deemed illegal -- such as one carrying child pornography -- but not if it is legally protected satire: “If someone has a satirical site, it is not for us to determine that it should come down.”

Even though it’s a hoax, it’s hard not to imagine what life would be like if the White House were handed over to the nervous-looking actor who could pass for a breathing cadaver in some of his creepier films. (A New Zealand newspaper recently described Walken as a man with “sunken green eyes and sandy, spiky hair, which is standing so erect you’d think he dropped his toaster in his bath this morning.”)

Just imagine what a figure he would cut addressing a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Think how he would look staring down the head of North Korea or Iran.

Walken once told an interviewer, “I don’t need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own.”

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And who would be his running mate? Asked for her suggestions, Buxbaum remarked: “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

Might we suggest Willem Dafoe?


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