Growing up in London, Eamonn Walker never dreamed he'd get the chance to work with such actors as Nicolas Cage, Denzel Washington, and Laurence Fishburne, but this is Hollywood, baby, and anything is possible! Having started off his career as a trained dancer, no one could have guessed how successful he'd become as an actor. As a result of long, hard years of work, Walker is finally getting the roles and recognition he deserves. With so many opportunities coming his way, he can't help but reflect on how far he's come in the last 20 years.
Though most actors spend a number of hours "studying their craft," Walker admits, "I didn't go to drama school. I had an operation on my leg that stopped me dancing so I picked up the stage in England," he explains. "I just started turning up at auditions saying, 'I can do that.' I would buy books and read, I would talk to people and ask questions, and I would put myself in situations that I thought might help me get a job." Boy, did he do something right! After appearing on several British television shows and movies, Walker landed his big break on the provocative HBO prison drama "Oz" as Kareem Said, the leader of the Muslim inmates. His talent quickly shone through, leading to parts in movies like "Unbreakable" and "Tears of the Sun" with Bruce Willis.
He's now anticipating the September release of his biggest flick to date, "Lord of War" with Cage, where he plays a dictator of an African country. "It's about weapons and how they get sold across the world. How we're condoning it on one hand by doing business with these people and pretending that we're against it on the other," he says of the movie, which also stars Ethan Hawke. Getting the chance to film in South Africa, on top of working with some of Hollywood's best actors, was a dream come true for him. "Being the boy from London, these are little fantasies that you have in your head that when they're coming true you still have to pinch yourself," gushes Walker.
For many actors on the rise, working with Cage would have been the ultimate fantasy fulfilled - that is, until one Mr. Denzel Washington came calling. Walker admits nothing was as nerve-wracking as acting with the living legend in the recent Broadway play "Julius Caesar."
"Nervous is an understatement," he says with a laugh. "But the nerves and fear are something that as an actor you have to learn to live with and work with. It proved to be really hard work in terms of the language and wrapping one's head around the emotions - it made you have to dig down so deep." So did his well-known co-star prove to be any help? "To spend every day with him for the last six months was a big learning curve for me," he admits. "I was nervous meeting him for the first time but then he was a lovely, beautiful man. I don't think you can actually find the proper words to describe what it was like to work with one of your heroes."
With years in acting under his belt, a more seasoned Walker continues to remain grateful for the opportunities he's been given throughout his career. "I've been a really lucky individual in terms of work and the caliber of the people I've worked with. There are so many people along the way who gave me a helping hand or a piece of advice," he notes. "When you start doing anything, you always do it for nothing, you work really hard, and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is a combination of years of trying to have some kind of philosophy in your head as to why you're doing it, and it all seems to come at once."
So what does the talented actor hope to accomplish in the future? "There is no perfect path when you do this thing. You really don't know what's happening tomorrow," he responds. "I'm open to any good piece of work so I'm going to read a lot. There are many scripts to read. I used to run a theatre company in England so I'm thinking about directing again. It depends on what comes along." Whatever Walker chooses, there's no doubt he'll be around for quite some time.
-- Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are featured in over 100 print publications and other media outlets with cutting edge celebrity news and insider scoop. Have a burning showbiz question?
Ask those in-the-know, Marilyn and Stacy, and get the real skinny daily in their "Ask BeckSmith
" column on CompuServe and Netscape.