Christoph Waltz can be an intimidating presence, both on screen and off. Best known for his unforgettable, steely-eyed Oscar-winning performance as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds,” in person, Waltz conveys the same intensity and sharp focus. Sporting a thick salt and pepper beard and offering a firm handshake, The Playlist spoke to Waltz this week as he spoke with press for Roman Polanski’s “Carnage,” which opens December 16th. As you already know, Waltz will soon head to New Orleans for Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” in which he will play a German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz, who teams with the titular slave on a mission of vengeance.
Of course, we had to use the opportunity to talk try to him about the film. And while, unsurprisingly, Waltz would neither confirm nor deny the details of his character, he did open up about his approach to his work, how his professional relationship with Tarantino has continued to develop, and why even after “Django Unchained” is finished, he still may not be too eager to talk about his part in the film.
1. Christoph Waltz says his pre-production injury “was not really that bad”
It has been widely reported that Waltz was injured training for “Django Unchained,” that he fell off a horse and dislocated a bone in his pelvis. When asked about the the injury, Waltz quickly played it down. “Yeah, it was not really that bad,” Waltz tells The Playlist. “Because of my injury, I’m a little behind. I have to catch up. I’m so busy right now. And then with the promotion of ‘Carnage,’ I really for the first time I partition my day into quarter hours.”
2. Christoph Waltz doesn’t have time to keep up with internet rumors about “Django Unchained”
When asked about the script leaking or whether he has any concern that audiences might already know too much about the story going in, Waltz says he is largely indifferent. “No. Actually, I don’t know, it sounds a little arrogant, but I mean it contrary to arrogance, but I have no time to worry about it.” For the most part, the actor is unaware of the intense focus on the project and avoids scouring the net to find out more. “If I read everything, I wouldn’t be doing anything else.”
3. The actor remains focused on his work, not on the setting, designs or anything else outside his sphere
“I’ve never been [to New Orleans],” Waltz tells The Playlist. When asked if he’s looking forward to checking out the unique city, his response is blunt. “I’m going there to work.” He does admit that the film will shoot at least partially elsewhere, but would not elaborate on the additional locations. “We won’t shoot in New Orleans the whole time, but a lot.” Going from a one room adaptation of a play to the massive period ensemble that is “Django Unchained” doesn’t concern Waltz a bit. He’s got his own character to worry about. “Lavish or not, it’s another thing that I don’t worry about,” says Waltz. “To play parts like in ‘Carnage’ or now in ‘Django,’ you have other things to worry about. You’re well advised to worry about the stuff that you need to take care of and let the production designer and the producers take care of the lavishness.”
4. Christoph Waltz wants to make a good movie, regardless of genre
Considering how few Westerns are made these days, many actors long to cross a good hard boiled western off their bucket list. Not the case with Waltz. “The thing is, I’ve never had an affinity to any specific genre. I just love samurai movies and I like westerns, especially spaghetti westerns, because they are kind of an equivalent. But I also love small complicated post-war Italian family drama. I love gangster movies, heist movies or art thieves. I love that kind of stuff. When it’s well done. Why would I love a shitty art thief movie? I prefer the good movie, whatever it is,” he explained. “John Huston never made a movie twice. I mean, even though it’s another set-up, another story, some people repeat their [formula] but John Huston, never. The same director made ‘The Misfits’ and ‘Annie.’ That’s as far as movies can be apart. Fantastic. I enjoyed ‘Annie’ and ‘Misfits,’ obviously for different reasons.”
5. His working relationship with Quentin Tarantino continues to evolve.
When asked whether he and Tarantino have a bit of a shorthand working together the second time around, Waltz doesn’t hesitate for a moment to respond. “No shorthand,” says Waltz. “It would rob me of my greatest pleasure and fun to use shorthand. If anything, it’s gotten more elaborate and more detailed. If anything, on the contrary.” While some actors might question elements of their character or desire some level of input in their character’s development, Waltz deeply respects Tarantino’s writing talents. “You’ve got one of the greatest screenwriters ever. You’re gonna tell him what to do? I know that there are people who would like to do that. I’m not one of them. I’m happy about everything that he writes and that I have to wrap my mind around. That’s where I get my fun and pleasure. I’m trying to understand what this is and not trying to impress on him what I want. I know what I want anyway. Why is that so interesting? I’m eager to see what Quentin wants.” And a sixth thing…will he talk about his character? “No. Not even afterwards,” says Waltz with a grin. “I don’t like to talk about the characters. I don’t like to burden you with my view because, in the end, to you, my view should be completely irrelevant. You should get what you see and not what I say.”
“Django Unchained” is currently slated for a Christmas Day 2012 release. We’ll have more from Waltz on “Carnage” in the coming weeks.