I recently watched Woody Allen’s Annie Hall for the first time in
years decades – what a joy it still is. But a real surprise for me was spotting some of the biggest stars of the ’80s and ’90s in early roles.
The one you’re most likely to remember is Christopher Walken as Annie’s troubled brother. Well, let’s be honest – actually everyone in this movie is “troubled” in some way – Walken’s character is properly disturbed. He confesses to Allen (as impatient and unsympathetic Alvy Singer) that he has dark thoughts which sometimes make him want to drive head-on into an oncoming car.
“Mmm, right,” says Alvy. “Well, I have to go now Duane, because I’m due back on the planet Earth.”
It’s just a small role, but a year later Walken was starring in The Deer Hunter, earning himself the Oscar for best supporting actor.
Next – Jeff Goldblum. He has just one line, spoken into a phone at a Hollywood party. I guess his therapist is on the other end, because he anxiously confesses “I-I forgot my mantra”.
A decade later, you may recall, he forgot to check for bugs in his teleporter in the remake of The Fly and got into an even worse state.
Finally – Sigourney Weaver. I confess I missed her, but a friend points out she appears as Alvy’s date near the end. It’s a non-speaking, barely-moving, and very brief role. Just two years later, she was all shouty and sweaty and the star of the show in Alien, launching a career that would win Golden Globes, a BAFTA and several Oscar nominations.
There are many reasons to watch Annie Hall again (or for the first time). Spotting fresh-faced actors who would become superstars probably isn’t top of the list, but – well, you know – la-di-da, la-di-da.