Walken tapped for role in musical redo

New Line has completed casting of key roles for “Hairspray,” with Christopher Walken to play Wilbur Turnblad in the Adam Shankman-directed film.

Walken joins John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Zac Efron and newcomer Nikki Blonsky in the cast.

Leslie Dixon wrote the script, and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produce. Shooting starts next month in Toronto, and the studio has accelerated the release to summer 2007.

New Line had originally confirmed that Jim Broadbent was to play Wilbur Turnblad.

Lyricist-composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony-winning tandem that wrote the “Hairspray” score, are penning several new tunes for the movie, with Shankman choreographing.

“Chris was the person Scott and I wanted in the first place, and this is a happy ending to this particular saga,” Shaiman said. “It seems like this part allows him to coalesce all his skills into one role. I am constantly pessimistic, but I look at this cast and feel like I’ve fallen into an old MGM musical.”

Walken is a vet of legit tuners who hoofed memorably in “Pennies From Heaven” and works dance moves into most of his films. His skills will match up well with those of Travolta, who plays his screen wife Edna, for their show-stopping song “Timeless.”

Walken just completed the Barry Levinson-directed comedy “Man of the Year” with Robin Williams for Morgan Creek and Universal and plays the villainous crime lord Feng in the Ping Pong spy comedy “Balls of Fury” for Spyglass and Rogue Pictures. Walken last made “Wedding Crashers” for New Line.

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