Christopher Walken has been cast as Captain Hook in the upcoming December production of the play Peter Pan Live that will air on NBC on December 4, according to USA Today. The official announcement was made on Sunday by Bob Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment. As Walken has played many villainous roles in the past and also has a background of doing musicals and dancing, he was an ideal actor, in Greenblatt’s estimation, to play Captain Hook in the upcoming NBC live event.
Besides the work Christopher Walken has done in musicals on Broadway, he has also appeared in musical films. For example, he sang and danced opposite John Travolta in the movie Hairspray and he was in Pennies From Heaven with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. Let’s Misbehave was the song that he sang and danced to along with Peters. The video from the movie is below. Most recently, Walken also danced in Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood.
The selection of Christopher Walken as Captain Hook is the first casting announcement NBC has made. NBC has not yet announced who will play Peter Pan or anyone else in the cast of Peter Pan Live.
The executive producers of Peter Pan Live, who also held the same role in The Sound of Music Live starring Carrie Underwood last December, will be Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. They both worked with Walken on Hairspray.
In a statement Christopher Walken made that was released by NBC, the actor said that it was “wonderful” that he had been cast to play Captain Hook by NBC. He stated that he is looking forward to working “with Neil Meron and Craig Zadan again after ‘Hairspray.’”
Though last December’s The Sound of Music Live did fairly well in the ratings, many critics did not think highly of it. Also, while most of Carrie Underwood’s fans seemed to like her in the musical, other people thought that her acting did not match her singing abilities and that Julie Andrews did a better job in the same role in the movie The Sound of Music.
NBC has already announced the live musical that is in store for December 2015. That will be The Music Man, from 1957. Some popular songs from The Music Man include Seventy-Six Trombones, Iowa Stubborn, Goodnight Someone and Ya Got Trouble.
NBC has admitted, according to USA Today and other sources, that they asked Kristen Bell (Frozen) to play Peter Pan. She was reportedly interested in doing it, but due to scheduling obligations, she could not agree to appear in Peter Pan Live.
Bell will be working on House of Lies (Showtime) during the time frame, August 9-December 5, that Greenblatt needs to have someone available. Even if she had been available, her announcement that she is pregnant would have likely made it unfeasible for her to have played Peter Pan.
Though Kristen Bell was unavailable to play Peter Pan, Bob Greenblatt did state that NBC is close to selecting the person. Whoever NBC chooses to play Peter Pan will be a woman, according to Greenblatt.
Fox, apparently noting the ratings success that NBC had with The Sound of Music Live, has also decided to bring live musical productions to TV. They plan to air a live production of Grease called Grease Live, produced by Paramount Television, sometime in 2015.
NBC’s announcement that Christopher Walken has been cast as Captain Hook in Peter Pan Live adds star power to the cast. He is a “versatile” actor, as Bob Greenblatt phrased it. Walken’s history of having played villains combined with, in Greenblatt’s words, “his love of musicals and uncanny abilities as a dancer make him perfect for stepping into this classic James M. Barrie character.” More news about casting done NBC for Peter Pan Live will follow in the wake of further announcements by the network.
By Douglas Cobb
Let’s Misbehave from the movie Pennies From Heaven (feat. Christopher Walken and Bernadette Peters)