Care to witness the shocking sight of a screenwriter taken off the set of his own movie in a body bag? Watch Seven's opening closely: The first stiff you see carried from a crime scene is Andrew Kevin Walker, the man who spun Seven's scheme of grisly atonement five years ago. ''Obviously I didn't get a speaking part,'' says Walker, now 31. ''But to see my name on the cast list right between Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, I'll take that.''
It's not the first time Walker has insinuated his name beside those better established. In 1991, with no produced scripts to his name, he mailed a draft of Seven, unsolicited, to screenwriter David Koepp (Bad Influence, Jurassic Park). He followed up with a nervy cold call asking Koepp to forward the script to an agent if he liked it. The gambit worked: Koepp called back. ''He told me, 'I think you need professional help,''' Walker recalls. ''I thought he meant a writing teacher. Then I realized he meant a psychiatrist.'' Koepp's agent agreed to rep Seven anyway.
What inspires a man to dream up some of the most heinous screen murders since Vincent Price butchered a bunch of drama critics in 1973's Theatre of Blood? For one thing, a fascination with forensics, fueled by a production gig that took him to a morgue where an attendant blithely showed him an amputated leg. ''I don't know how these people function without going insane.'' But mostly what drove him was the grind of commuting from Astoria, Queens, to a menial job at a Tower Records in Manhattan.
Now living in L.A., Walker hasn't exactly made it off the mean streets yet. He carefully downplays the other movies on his resume, among them the mind-meld thriller Hideaway and the cyber-sci-fi flick Brainscan. And although the buzz on Seven has made him a hotter scribe, an X-Men script he got ''first crack at'' last year for Donner/Schuler-Donner is now ''someone else's baby.'' That's life in Tinseltown for you: Give up your day job, score with a highfalutin slasher movie, and you're still one step away from development hell.