Christoph Waltz: How Quentin Tarantino changed my life

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Af­ter years as an ob­scure Ger­man-lan­guage ac­tor, Tarantino gave Waltz his first English-lan­guage role in

In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds (2009). Waltz be­came the first ac­tor to win an Os­car in a Tarantino film, and he did it again three years later in Django Un­chained, which also won his men­tor the best screen­play statue “For In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds, Quentin wanted to get the most au­then­tic cast he could so, for the French char­ac­ters he went to France, for the Ger­mans he went to Ger­many, and he was lucky enough to get an Aus­trian.

“I’d never re­ally made it into films in Ger­many and at the time made a liv­ing in tele­vi­sion. My whole pro­fes­sional life needed a se­ri­ous re­boot and with­out Quentin I might have ended up in al­co­holism, I don’t know. I was full of frus­tra­tion. Se­ri­ously, it was a very neg­a­tive pe­riod of my life that didn’t show any signs of end­ing. I’d re­ally got my­self into a cor­ner.

“Be­fore work­ing with him, I re­watched his work. As an ac­tor, you try to un­der­stand the au­thor, the mind be­hind it. They teach you to do that in drama school with Shake­speare and Ib­sen, so why not do it with Tarantino? I al­ready knew them as a crit­i­cal au­di­ence mem­ber but now I was look­ing as an en­tirely un­crit­i­cal crew mem­ber and that’s dif­fer­ent.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing way to put it — that I won him an Os­car — but I do gen­uinely agree. He wrote it, he cre­ated these char­ac­ters and if you ever see how Tarantino writes his scripts, he cre­ates char­ac­ters and then he sets them free. He writes re­ports on what hap­pens to them as they ven­ture through his imag­i­na­tion. It’s re­ally fab­u­lous.

“Af­ter suc­cess with Quentin, my sus­pi­cion rose, and I’d think, ‘This can’t be quite right.’ I still catch my­self oc­ca­sion­ally look­ing over my shoul­der to see if some­one is com­ing to say, ‘Oh no, no, no, it was all just a joke! Go back to Ger­man TV.’”

Waltz’s new film Down­siz­ing is out in cine­mas on 19 Jan­uary 2018

Waltz went from Ger­man TV to dou­ble Os­car-win­ner in the time it takes to say, ‘Danke, Quentin’

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