Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interview with Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds - July 23rd, 2009

Promoting: Inglourious Basterds
Venue: Claridge's Hotel
Interview type: Press conference

ViewLondon (VL): Christoph, it has been said by Tarantino that the role of Hans Landa is the most important in the film, and there was some desperation that, if he couldn't find a suitable actor, he'd cancel the project. What do you think made you right for the role?

Christoph Waltz (CW): Well, every casting process ends with the part being cast. But, desperation? I don't know. When Lawrence tells me, or Quentin tells me, I'm deeply honoured, but I didn't feel any desperation. I found these very polite and civilised and accommodating gentlemen.

VL: Often actors prefer to play villains by latching onto a small redeeming quality in the character. Is that true with your approach to Landa? How could you play such a hideous man?

CW: Well, it's what you say, it's not what I say - because I can't play hideous, how do you play that? I leave my moral judgement in the cloakroom, and I look at it apart from my ethical preoccupations. If you'd asked Heinrich Himmler if he considered himself an evil person, I'm 100 percent certain that he would have not understood the question. Yes, coming from your point of view, I can understand what you're saying. But, from my point of view, I see it differently.

VL: Could you see anything in him that you could respect?

CW: Yes, of course. Apart from this very first thing, and apart from destroying beauty, there is not much that hints at any vicious, violent - he follows a different agenda, and that's part of why this movie and this part is so great, that you're being called upon to employ your moral faculties.

VL: How does Quentin compare as a director to other directors you've worked with?

CW: He doesn't infringe upon your choice. He manages to actually direct in the true sense of the word. He directs you making the right choice. He creates this flow, and that's why the casting was already part of the process. The reading, the actual opening the envelope to take out the script was already the initial point of departure for the flow, and that flow hasn't stopped to this day. And he manages to keep that flow going, and all you need to do is trust. It sounds a bit cliché and even a bit esoteric. But it isn't. It's actually very hands-on. He clears away everything, you know. Michelangelo once said, sculpting is easy, everything that's not the sculpture, you chip away from the block. And that's in a way what Quentin does, and you end up finding yourself being part of the sculpture, without actually knowing how it happens. He directs, he leads, and you only have to follow, and that's the beauty of the process.


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