With awards season quickly approaching, speculation begins on what will be this year’s big winner. Just two years ago, one of those films was Quentin Tarantino’s, Inglourious Basterds, nominated for eight Academy Awards, with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor. Over his 20 year career, Tarantino’s films have been nominated for sixteen Oscars, winning twice. Considering the current Oscar buzz around his latest film, Django Unchained, he’s looking to add a few more to the list. Waltz, also cast in Django, is once again the one to watch come Oscar time. So where did this Tarantino/Waltz match made in heaven begin? In a 2010 CNN Interview, Larry King asks Tarantino where he found Waltz for the role of Basterds’ SS Colonel Landa, to which Tarantino replied, “He literally just walked through the door. He walked through the door of the casting office.”
It was actually a German casting director that put Waltz up for the job, as told in this USA Today article.
Once upon a time, in Berlin, there lived a middle-aged Austrian actor named Christoph Waltz who for the past 30 years had toiled mostly in the middlebrow world of German television.
He worked steadily, often joylessly, and paid the bills. And then, through a German casting director, he met motor-mouthed American director Quentin Tarantino, who at the time was on a quest to find someone conversant in English, Italian, French and German to play the devilish Nazi Hans Landa in his film Inglourious Basterds. Up till then, he had struck out.
Tarantino says he wrote a “very specific character. I looked at a lot of people, and (Waltz) was the only person who could take that character on the page and put him on the screen. It’s a case of the casting process working at its best. He came in. I didn’t know who he was. I heard he’s done some miniseries. He came in and did his audition, and in his first reading, blew me away.”
Waltz elaborates on his good fortune of working with Tarantino on Basterds.
Inglourious Basterds, Waltz says, “changed everything. It’s interesting because, without being arrogant, I don’t feel so misplaced anymore. It’s easy to not feel misplaced if this tidal wave of appreciation is coming your way.
“I’ve had a long, hard stretch, not so much in my career, but in my understanding of what it’s supposed to be and what my possibilities are.”
Working with Tarantino, a force of nature who almost crackles with enthusiasm, “reawakened my passion for acting. It’s reminded me of my passion for movies. I’ve toned down that passion in the face of constant frustration,” Waltz says. “You get hit over the knuckles enough; you don’t stick them out anymore.”
For his role in Basterds, Waltz also won acting awards at the Cannes film festival, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and a slew of critics’ choice contests. In one of his most moving award speeches, Waltz gushes over his director after winning an Oscar.
“A year and a half ago, I was exposed to the gravitational forces of Quentin Tarantino. He took my modest little world — my globe — and with the power of his talent and his words and his vision, he flung it into his orbit — a dizzying experience.”
Waltz capped off the speech by calling Basterds a “big bang of a movie,” adding: “I wouldn’t have dared to dream that my little world, my globe, would be part of that constellation. And now you’ve made it golden.”
You can watch Waltz’s entire Oscar acceptance speech for Inglourious Basterds here.
Now here we are, back to the awards season again and like Basterds, Tarantino’s Django has Oscar buzz in many top categories, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for possibly both Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. Maybe this year, not only his actors will walk away with gold, but also the man himself. Wouldn’t that be a great way to celebrate 20 years of exceptional filmmaking as a writer, director and Oscar winning talent finder?
Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction will be returning to theaters this December, as one-day commemorative events. For more details and ticket information, click here. The Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection will be available in stores on November 20th. Pre-order your box set now.