Oh this should be good: Christopher Walken is going to play Captain Hook — live.
NBC has tapped the veteran Pulp Fiction actor to play the top villain in its next big live musical special Peter Pan. NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt revealed the decision at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills on Sunday. Though usually considered a dramatic actor, Walken has a long history of singing and dancing roles. From Pennies from Heaven (1981) to Hairspray (2007) to Jersey Boys (2014) to appearances on NBC’s own Saturday Night Live.
“He might really be a song and dance man at heart,” Greenblatt told critics. “He’s fearless as a comedic actor and always comes to play. I guarantee you he’s going to bring his own spin to Captain Hook. He might be the first tap-dancing Captain Hook.”
As for casting the title role, Greenblatt confirmed he’s looking for a female actress for the part. He also revealed he wanted to cast none other than Kristen Bell (Frozen) as Pan — but that he had to let it go. “We’ve actually had several women who wanted to do it but they’re either busy or their schedules don’t work,” he said. “It’s not like we can film this at any time. I need that person from Aug. 5 to Dec. 5 and so that knocks out the Kristen Bells of the world — who is someone that I talked to about doing it and she was interested, but she’s doing House of Lies … it’s tricky finding the right person, but we’re actually close.”
Last year, NBC had a stunning success with its telecast of The Sound of Music Live. The three-hour musical delivered 18.6 million viewers and a 4.6 rating during its first airing. Since then, Fox announced a live musical special of its own, Grease Live, planned for 2015.
NBC has a long history with Peter Pan. The original Peter Pan Broadway production opened in 1954 and featured songs such as “I’m Flying,” “I’ve Gotta Crow,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” and “Never Never Land.” It starred Martin as Peter and Cyril Richard as Captain Hook. The show aired as a live broadcast on NBC in 1955 to an incredible audience of 65 million viewers. According to NBC, that was the highest rating for a single night program at the time. NBC later re-aired the show live again in 1956 and 1960. As for pulling off the flying, Greenblatt previously told reporters, “You see the wires, it’s part of the charm of the show, we’ll do what we can to disguise them.”
For a reminder of Walken’s dancing chops, check out this 2001 Fatboy Slim video:
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— NBC renews three summer shows