Christoph Waltz saddles up for Django Unchained
It’s been three years since Quentin Tarantino plucked Christoph Waltz from movie obscurity to star as the villainous Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds.
The actor had been working for years in his native Germany, occasionally toiling in English language B-movie projects for decades, but his Oscar-winning turn in the Tarantino film catapulted him into fame in Hollywood. And we couldn’t be happier.
Since his breakout performance, Waltz has turned in a string of English-language performances in films like Water for Elephants and Carnage but returns to work with Tarantino in this month’s Django Unchained. At Comic-Con in July, Cineplex had a chance to sit down with Waltz and get the scoop on Django.
CINEPLEX: How clearly defined is your character by Quentin’s vision? How do you map out a character?
CHRISTOPH WALTZ: It’s not that academic. It’s not that scientific. Every scene as it is written demands a different approach. Every story, as it’s written demands a different perspective and a different shift of thinking and then if you put all of these things together you really have very few concrete or rather closely defined coordinates. You do have your intention, your talent, your willingness to put in many hours and hard work.
CINEPLEX: Did Quentin provide you with any sort of cinematic antecedence or pop cultural references to build into the character or did he leave you to find your own way?
CW: I’m 56 years old. I’m from Europe. I saw these spaghetti westerns when they came out. I have a different approach to the genre than people in America would…when I grew up, it was the year of spaghetti western. [Spaghetti western star] Franco Nero was a superstar all over Europe.
CINEPLEX: What was it like having Franco Nero provide a cameo in the film?
CW: Very often [a cameo] is just to have a well-known face up on top of everybody else but in this case it was like almost the über father- the über father super ego who is kind of overseeing the new version.
CINEPLEX: You mentioned that as a European you have a different perspective. How does that inform your entire foundation of this period of American history?
CW: You’re absolutely right because of course I was familiar with the broader aspects of the South, the North, the Civil War, what lead to the civil war, what were the results. But the finer points, I never really looked in to that much because history in Europe is predominantly well, European. I was able to find a perspective on what I see today and its historical background.
CINEPLEX: Now that you have more of an understanding of the historical context of Django Unchained, does it filter in to your experience of current events in America?
CW: Looking in to more details of American history makes more sense of what’s happening today and was really one of the greatest rewards of doing this job.