Michael meets his Hollywood hero

August 27 2021

Michael Riley can't control his emotions as he meets his hero Christopher Walken

Michael Riley can't control his emotions as he meets his hero Christopher Walken

A DOWNEND film fan was left lost for words and in tears when he met his idol, Hollywood A-lister Christopher Walken.
The Oscar-winning star has been filming in Bristol for a BBC TV series, The Offenders, which has taken him to locations including the Vassall Centre and Oldbury Court Inn in Fishponds.
A shoot in Shirehampton gave Michael Riley, who has been a huge Walken fan for 40 years, the chance to finally meet the star of more than 100 movies, including The Deer Hunter – which won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar – Pulp Fiction and A View to a Kill.
Michael runs a Facebook group for fans of the actor and had been asking people to keep an eye on reports of where filming was taking place.
He received a tip-off from group member Angela Welling that the crew had set up in Shirehampton and his friend Dean McKenzie drove him to the set.
They took a greetings card and a bottle of Jim Beam whiskey, which Michael knew Walken drinks.
When they arrived they had a short negotiation with the security team, who took the card and showed it to director Stephen Merchant, the Hanham-born comedian and actor.
Michael said: "I saw Stephen Merchant reading the card and he looked over to me and gave the thumbs-up.
"Within moments I'd met my hero. He was walking closer and closer and my emotions overwhelmed me. I just burst out crying, like a baby.
"He was very friendly – he came up to me and did a fist-bump and stood next to me."
Michael said he was crying in all of the pictures taken of the meeting and didn't manage to say anything except to remind Walken to take the whiskey with him.
He said: "It happened so quickly and because I was crying, I couldn't get a hold of myself and find the words to talk to him."
Michael, who runs the joint Christopher Walken and Bryan Ferry Facebook group with fellow fans Caroline Robinson and Vicki Quarant, has been a fan of Walken since he saw the 1983 sci-fi thriller Brainstorm.
He says he finds Walken's style of acting always "true to life" and believable, regardless of the role or type of film.
Michael has more than 100 of his films on DVD but says he would probably never have had the chance to meet the star had he not been filming in Bristol.
He said: "I would do it again if I had the chance – probably without the crying!"
The Offenders is described as "part crime thriller, and part character study – with humour and heart" and also includes Merchant, Richard E Grant, EastEnders' Clare Perkins and Poldark's Eleanor Tomlinson among the cast.
The story follows seven strangers from different walks of life forced together to complete a Community Payback sentence in Bristol.
Merchant said: "This is the first series I’ve made in my home town of Bristol and I’m so excited to showcase the city and utilise the amazing local talent."