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Christopher Walken used to be a lion tamer, yes, really

Christopher Walken used to work as a lion tamer as a young teenager but he never thought it was dangerous and was keen to downplay the danger

Christopher Walken and a lion

Some actors go out of their way to learn new skills that will help them stand out when the casting producer is scanning the list of potential auditionees. Sword fighting, singing, horse riding are all normal skills for an actor to have if they want to star in action movies, but one A-lister has them all beat because his resume has ‘lion tamer’ on it.

Christopher Walken is the actor in question, and he’s admitted in the past to having some experience in the field of lion taming. Yes, you read that right. As a young man, Walken used to enter a cage with a rather large cat and get it to do tricks. Not really a career for the faint of heart but in an interview with IndieWire, Walken downplayed the danger.

“When I was 16, I spent a summer taming lions? But it was fake. Well, it was fake in the sense that the real lion tamer who owned the small circus… he would do this big act with a dozen big cats,” Walken explained. “Then he would send them all out at the end and just leave this one old girl, and I would come in with my whip, and I’d go like that, and she’d sit up.”

“But she was really more like a dog,” he continued. “It wasn’t really lion taming. She was very sweet.” While Walken may be keen to pass off the whole thing as perfectly safe, you couldn’t get me in a cage with a slightly larger than average dog, let alone an actual lion.

Still, if you look at Walken’s career, it seems that taming lions is good for an actor. He’s starred in pictures like The Deer Hunter, Batman, and Pulp Fiction. He’s even worked with Steven Spielberg on Catch Me If You Can. That’s quite impressive. Maybe the lion’s bravery rubbed off on him?

Walken isn’t the only actor with a few literally odd jobs on his CV. John Hamm designed sets for softcore porn movies, the X-Men’s own Hugh Jackman was a party clown, and old Sly Stallone used to clean out lion cages at his local zoo.

If you like Walken’s work (acting, not lion taming), check out our list of the best drama movies ever made.