Even if you don't know who Andrew Kevin Walker is, you may know what he looks like. Walker appeared as the first dead body in Seven (1995) and played the sleeping neighbor who Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart signal for help in Panic Room (2002). You may also have seen his name. He lent it to the three detectives -- Andrew, Kevin, and Walker -- who try to castrate Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999). Walker's true claim to fame is as one of Hollywood's leading screenwriters and script doctors. He specializes in big-budget thrillers that are just as gutsy as their artsy counterparts; he has also gotten the first crack at the industry's most anticipated screenplays, as well as put the final touches on today's most popular films.
Raised in Mechanicsburg, PA, Walker attended Penn State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in Film Production. After graduating, he moved to New York City and toiled on several low-budget films. In 1991, while working at Tower Records, Walker slipped into a deep depression. He channeled his black mood into Seven (1994), a dark screenplay in which a serial killer murders people based on the seven deadly sins. New Line Cinema bought the crime thriller and Walker relocated to Los Angeles soon afterward.
It took several years for Seven to go into production, during which time Walker contributed to HBO's Tales From the Crypt and wrote the thrillers Brainscan (1994) and Hideaway (1995). At the request of New Line, he also reluctantly toned down Seven's gruesome ending -- which included the female lead's severed head turning up inside a box -- to make it more palatable. However, when director David Fincher agreed to helm the project, he had done so based on Walker's first draft. Fincher and the film's stars, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, rallied behind Walker's shocking finale, eventually convincing executive producer Arnold Kopelson to keep the gore in the film (Pitt's contract even stipulated that the studio could not alter Seven's final segment). The film became one of 1995's biggest hits, both critically and commercially, and established Walker as an A-list screenwriter.
The next few years saw Walker penning uncredited rewrites on films such as Fincher's The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999), Paul Anderson's Event Horizon (1997), and David Koepp's Stir of Echoes (1999), and writing an early draft of Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000). He also sold his original screenplay 8MM (1999) -- about a private eye who is hired to investigate the authenticity of a snuff movie -- to Columbia Pictures for a reported 1.25 million dollars. But the studio grew wary of the film's sordid subject matter, and began pressuring Walker into making major changes to the script. Walker thought he was saved when Joel Schumacher agreed to direct the film and supported him against the studio heads. But Schumacher simply made changes of his own, rearranging the script and doctoring scenes to lighten up the film. In a publicized debate, Walker walked off the set and later refused to watch the film, which opened to scathing reviews and disappointing box-office returns.
Walker went on to adapt Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow into Tim Burton's eerie homage to Britain's Hammer films, Sleepy Hollow (1999), starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. Though Burton admired Walker and co-writer Kevin Yagher's work on the film, he still hired Shakespeare in Love (1998) scribe Tom Stoppard to cut down its violence. Walker then wrote two installments of the BMW promotional short-film series The Hire (2001), starring Croupier's Clive Owen as a hired driver. In the first, John Frankenheimer's Ambush (2001), Owen must protect his passenger from mysterious masked gunmen who accuse the man of smuggling diamonds. In the second, Wong Kar-Wai's The Follow (2001), Owen is hired by Mickey Rourke to spy on his wife, who he thinks is an adulteress. Both films premiered on the BMW film site and helped fans whet their appetites for Walker's next projects, an adaptation of Marvel Comics' Silver Surfer for FOX and a screenplay that pairs DC Comic heroes Superman and Batman for director Wolfgang Petersen.