Old School Americana & Nostalgia

Movies

Christopher Walken Nearly Became a Horror Icon With ‘Psycho II’

Christopher Walken Nearly Became a Horror Icon With ‘Psycho II’

Psycho is one of the greatest horror films ever done and Psycho II creators were considering Christopher Walken as their lead actor. The reason Walken was being considered is Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho, originally did not agree to be in the sequel.

The premise of Psycho II had nothing to do with the original movie or other Psycho-related books. In this sequel, we see Norman Bates (Perkins) as a better man. He’s now out of a mental institution but starts getting harangued by Marion’s sister Lila Crane (Vera Miles) and Lila’s daughter Mary Loomis (Meg Tilly).

Yes, Anthony Perkins eventually signed on to reprise his role. What about Christopher Walken? Here’s a guy who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Deer Hunter.

Christopher Walken could have gotten away with playing the lead Psycho role. His unique speaking pattern and mannerisms could have allowed Walken to play Bates differently. Well, screenwriter Tom Holland had other plans. He intended to write a script that would convince Perkins to return to the big screen as Bates. Walken probably would have played Bates if not for Holland.

Christopher Walken Saw ‘Psycho’ Role Go to the Original Norman

Tom Holland’s hard work paid off. Once Anthony Perkins saw Holland’s script, he was back in front of the cameras.

In an interview with Yahoo! Movies in 2023, Holland reflected on the work he did for Psycho II. “I was an actor for ten years before I started to write,” Holland said. “You have to give an actor something to play that they know is dramatic pay dirt.”

“And that’s what that script had,” he continued. “Even in the first one, you felt bad for Norman, because you knew his mother had turned him into that and there was something so vulnerable about Tony.”

Anthony Perkins and the movie itself were both so good that Psycho II, originally slotted for a straight-to-TV release, became a theatrical release. “The reaction was so overwhelming that Universal had to release it as a feature film,” Holland said. “They couldn’t get a better writer and director because Tony had already agreed to the script!”

Tom Holland could not use author Robert Bloch’s sequels since Norman Bates gets killed off in Chapter 1 of Book 2. So, that put the onus on Holland to go to work.

‘Psycho II’ Was Made Without Alfred Hitchcock

When this movie came out in 1983, director Alfred Hitchcock, the master behind Psycho, The Birds, and other horror movies, had already passed away. Richard Franklin took over the director’s chair in this sequel. Psycho II was a box-office and critical success, however, even without its masterful original director. Anthony Perkins came back to direct and star in Psycho III.

What about Christopher Walken, what did he do after being turned down for Psycho? In 1983, one could find him starring in a film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. He also found time to host Saturday Night Live, where his humorous side came out a lot.

Anthony Perkins, Christopher Walken, and Tom Holland all ended up big winners in their own way. And an outstanding horror picture picked up new fans with its sequels along the way.