In Quentin Tarantino’s explosive new film, “Django Unchained,” Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) stars as Dr. King Schultz, a bounty hunter who teams with Jamie Foxx’s plantation slave, Django, as he seeks vengeance on his former owners and attempts to rescue the wife (Kerry Washington) he’s lost to the slave trade.
|Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures|
For his searing performance in the film, Waltz already won the Best Supporting Actor honors from the Golden Globes and BAFTA, and is nominated for the same award at the Oscars. “Django Unchained” itself is vying for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Prior to the awards season, Christoph Waltz talked about the experience of filming “Django Unchained” in the following interview.
Question: What was it like reteaming with Quentin Tarantino?
Christoph Waltz: Well, it wasn’t really reteaming because the team spirit stayed alive - it kind of bridged the gap between two movies. We were in constant contact anyway and as this script sort of inched its way into the world, I was allowed to take the occasional peek. I could follow what was happening…
Q: I take it he wrote this part for you?
Waltz: You’d really have to ask Quentin Tarantino, that…. But kind of, yeah, I guess (laughs)... That process helped me to kind of slowly, cautiously approach the thing, to think about it in portions and not the whole big brunt of a part, you know, wondering for a few weeks what will happen next. So it kind of drew me in gradually. I prefer that than being hit over the head with something.
Q: How did you prepare for the film – aside from growing that incredible beard?
Waltz: It was a very good beard. But growing beards is not really part of preparation. Well, maybe it is (laughs)… who knows? I don’t really elaborate on what I do and how I do it all that much… There is so much myth about ‘the actor’s preparation,’ which is basically bulls--t, because everybody just does whatever he can to get the ball rolling, the juices flowing, to start to understand what’s required. You know, you read the script and you switch your brain on. That’s what you basically do. I mean, that’s what I do.
Q: What was it like working with Jamie Foxx? You guys have great chemistry together.
Waltz: Somebody else mentioned this and I agree, absolutely. I mean, chemistry is really the science of how elements are combined with each other in order to create something new... And that’s really how it was. Because, you know, we’re very different. Not just the background and the color of our skin, you know, but everything is very different, as it should be. The combination is what makes it. That’s why film is such a great medium. Because it’s really all about composition – putting together different things, putting together details, elements, materials, people, histories, melodies and rhythms...
Q: What was the biggest challenge making the film?
Waltz: For me, that it was a very, very long enterprise. So far I’ve spent about a year and a half with it. If you consider the promotional part of it, it will be two years. And I’ve never done that before. I never have done anything of this scale in terms of time.
Q: It’s a very American story. Were there certain advantages in being an outsider, an Austrian, when it came to approaching it?
Waltz: Absolutely. It’s was a complete advantage of not having to even know about slavery, the South and all these sinister things. You know, we have our own sinister things. Slavery, thankfully, is not one of them.
Q: What is about Quentin Tarantino’s films that audiences find so attractive?
Waltz: He speaks to every single one of them individually. He doesn’t aim it as a target audience. He does not satisfy a market segment. That’s for the promoters or business people. He doesn’t share that perspective. He makes movies from his heart to the heart of the spectator. And that’s why people love it.
Q: And as an actor – what’s it like to be in one of his movies?
Waltz: It’s hard work. And I love hard work. It requires everything that I have. I’m not sure whether I have enough, but that’s a different discussion (laughs)... I need to muster every little bit that I have at my disposal, you know, and throw it in.
Q: Do you share your ideas and give your input on set?
Waltz: No, no, it’s his movie. That’s what I do and in a way I feel that’s what I do best – make things work. Like the structural engineer. He’s not designing the house. He’s working out how it holds up.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Quentin? Is it strictly professional?
Waltz: No, actually it’s more a personal friendship than professional. Which is a good thing, because in a way it separates the two fields. When I work with him, I work with him. When he’s the director, it’s his movie. He is different from any other director in the world and he’s probably more of an auteur than any of the other auteurs still alive. And so I completely concede that it is his movie… I’m just there to try to supply the best material for his edit.
Q: Final question. What’s it really like to win an Oscar?
Waltz: It’s pretty nice (laughs).