If you were to tot up a list of places you’d expect to encounter Christopher Walken, you’d get pretty close to the bottom before you reached ‘Bristol’. But that’s exactly where the legendary actor found himself when shooting upcoming BBC One drama The Offenders, a six-part series from the mind of one Stephen Merchant. Off the back of Fighting With My Family, Merchant has cooked up a show about seven strangers who all find themselves doing Community Payback in Bristol – and have to band together when one of them targeted by a criminal gang.

Hence, Christopher Walken found himself in the southwest of England, having taken on the role of Frank in the show. “As soon as I was let out I walked all over Bristol and discovered many nice places,” he tells Empire in the new issue. “And I had fun with the actors. On the first day everyone was kind of quiet. We all sat there just kind of staring at each other, but within a couple of hours, things got silly. When things start to get silly, you know you’re okay.”

The Offenders – exclusive

Walken was impressed, too, with Merchant’s scripts – with the Bristolian acting as writer and director on the series, as well as starring as one of the seven titular offenders. “Stephen is very impressive and intelligent – a brilliant man,” says Walken. “He’s got a big brain and he writes very good dialogue. On some projects you’re encouraged to improvise, but I’ve done some Quentin Tarantino scripts and every word I ever said in those movies was what was in his script, and that works best for me. And that’s the same with Stephen’s scripts.”

Empire – September 2021 cover

Read Empire’s full Christopher Walken interview in the Shang-Chi issue, on newsstands from Thursday 5 August. Order a copy online here. The Offenders comes to BBC One later this year.

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