Christoph Waltz as Nazi Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Screenshot from Inglourious Basterds.
Quentin Tarantino’s best movie — Inglourious Basterds — almost didn’t get made.
Tarantino has said that Nazi Col. Hans Landa was “the greatest character I’ve ever written,” and Tarantino refused to make Inglourious Basterds until he found the right actor to portray the film’s antagonist. When auditions failed to produce a worthy actor, Tarantino almost shelved the script.
In a recent interview for The Moment With Brian Koppelman podcast, Tarantino said that when Christoph Waltz finally brought the character to life, Tarantino was “gobsmacked.” But once Waltz joined the cast, Tarantino chose to hide the full, terrifying persona of Landa from the rest of the cast.
“I don’t want them to think that they’re getting a glimpse of who you are really going to be,” Tarantino said, describing his instructions to Waltz. “So on a scale of one to 10, give me six. Be good enough, just good enough. […] I don’t want them to know what you have, and I don’t want them to get a handle on Landa.”
In addition to revealing only a subdued version of Landa before filming, Tarantino prevented Waltz from rehearsing with the other actors. At the time, Waltz was largely unknown outside of Germany, so most of the cast was unfamiliar with his work.
“I don’t want them to know your gunslinging abilities until cameras are rolling,” Tarantino explained.
Tarantino’s waiting for the right actor and his directorial strategies paid off. Inglourious Basterds was nominated for eight Oscars, and Waltz took home the film’s only Oscar win for best performance by an actor in a supporting role.
Read Next: 3 War-Movie Actors Who Took Method Acting to a Whole New Level
Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
Get to know the Glock 19 — how it works, who uses it, and why it’s one of the most popular handguns in the US.
Afghan soldier who assisted the U.S. now faces uncertainty in bid for asylum.
The Dirty Dozen was based on a real team of rule-breaking elite paratroopers who jumped into France ahead of D-Day.
This year's D-Day tribute to the young soldiers who died in Normandy is not only a chance to honor t...
The F-22 Raptor was designed to fight next-gen Russian fighters. So far its only air-to-air kills are a Chinese balloon and a UFO.
The US Navy outwitted and outfought the Imperial Japanese Navy to secure victory in the do-or-die Battle of Midway.
Ukrainian forces were making a major effort to end months of a battlefield stalemate and punch throu...
With Father’s Day rapidly approaching, take a look back at some of the raddest dads to ever walk the planet.