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Christopher Walken paints over a Banksy for Stephen Merchant’s new show

Banksy aided the stunt on the set of Stephen Merchant's new series 'The Outlaws'

By Charlotte Krol

Christopher Walken and Stephen Merchant seen in a composite image
Christopher Walken and Stephen Merchant. (Picture: Wikimedia commons/Pierre Vogel; Wikimedia commons/Carolyn Djanogly

Christopher Walken has painted over a real Banksy artwork for a scene in Stephen Merchant’s comedy-drama ‘The Outlaws’.

The actor, who portrays an American conman in the BBC series, was able to cover up the original Banksy trademark rat thanks to an intervention by the mystery Bristolian artist himself.

Banksy was contacted by ‘The Outlaws‘ production team to see if he could help the programme, which is filmed in Bristol. A TV insider told The Sun: “Then they discovered shortly afterwards that he’d been to the location where they were filming and left something behind.

“They couldn’t believe their luck as he’d painted a giant rat using his hallmark stencilling technique as well as his distinctive signature.”

Banksy’s only stipulation was that Walken would actually paint over the artwork, drawing paralells to his other destructive art pieces such as ‘Girl With Balloon‘, which was shredded after being bought for £1 million at auction in 2018.

‘The Outlaws’ is set in Merchant’s hometown of Bristol and follows the stories of seven characters from different walks of life who are brought together to complete community service.

Merchant spoke to Rolling Stone UK recently about the programme and getting film legend Walken involved. ‘The Office’ star explained how he headed to Walken’s Connecticut home to convince him to get involved.

“He asked me what Bristol was like and I said it’s got a big suspension bridge, it’s very hilly and very colourful. It’s basically like San Francisco!” Merchant recalled.

“He’d stop and think about that answer and watch the squirrels in his garden. You’d usually want to fill that silence but I’d been told he was comfortable with it, so it was two men sitting there watching the squirrels until he had another question. I think we got through three questions in four hours!”

Walken paints over the Banksy for a scene in the final episode of ‘The Outlaws’, which was released on BBC iPlayer on Wednesday (November 3).

Meanwhile, the shredded ‘Girl With Balloon’ artwork was auctioned last month for a record £18.5 million [via The Guardian].