NEW YORK (Reuters) - Academy Award winner Christopher Walken, a veteran of both stage and screen, is taking a first crack at a live television musical as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan Live!," a gig he likens to a sporting event.
In the production that airs on Dec. 4 on NBC, Walken plays opposite Allison Williams, who steps into the title role made famous by Mary Martin in the original 1954 Broadway musical.
Whereas a Broadway play involves previews and interaction with an audience before opening night, Walken says doing a live musical for broadcast is like showing up for a one-off sports competition.
"It's very much of a thing between you and the audience," the 71-year-old Walken, who won a best supporting actor Oscar in 1979 for "The Deer Hunter," said in an interview at a press event in New York.
"But in this situation, you just do it and that's it. I've never done that."
"Peter Pan Live!" follows the success of the Comcast Corp-owned network's "The Sound of Music," which was watched by 18 million viewers when it aired last year, is part of a trend for TV networks to offer more live events.
For Williams, best known for her role in the HBO series "Girls," playing Peter Pan was something she had dreamed about since childhood. She said starring opposite Walken as the one-handed pirate pursued by a crocodile in the story by the Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie was the icing on the cake.
"He is one of the funniest people I have ever worked with," Williams, 26, said about Walken. "I think his Hook will be just scary and silly enough for kids."
Walken will be showing off his singing and dancing skills as Hook and promises to bring his own take to the iconic role.
"I like him. He's very sad about his hand. There is a crocodile chasing him and he is lonely, I think," Walken said about Hook.
"He wants vengeance and he also wants a mother. He is very upset Peter Pan has found a mother and he wants to take her away and be his mother. So, he's a little sad."
The cast includes multiple Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara ("South Pacific") as Mrs. Darling and Tony winner Christian Borle ("Peter and the Starcatcher") in dual roles as Mr. Darling, and Mr. Smee, Hook's trusted assistant.
Williams learned to fly for the role, but she didn't need any help perfecting Peter's rooster crow.
"I've been crowing my whole life," she said.
(Editing by Paul Simao)